Owning a condominium is different from owning a single-family residence. A condominium owner will typically own the “inside” of their given unit. The condominium’s homeowners association (HOA), by contrast, generally bears responsibility for “common areas.” These areas can include hallways between the condo units, the lawn/grass areas outside of the building(s), etc. HOA responsibility for these areas can include aesthetics as well as pipes, electrical wiring, etc. in common areas and not within an individual unit.
Generally speaking, an HOA will not be responsible for damage to the interior of a unit (the owner’s area) unless it is shown that the following occurred:
- The HOA failed to take steps to properly maintain community/exterior areas; and
- The failure of the HOA led to an incident that caused damage to the condo owner’s interior area.
Relevant Law and Potential Causes of Action
Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(f) requires that all condominium property outside of an individual unit be insured by the condominium association, but any property within the boundaries of an individual unit and any insurance thereupon is the responsibility of the unit owner. The general rule is that all damages in excess of the association’s property insurance coverage are a common expense of the association. Exceptions to this general rule apply, making the unit owner responsible for the costs of repair or replacement of any portion of the condominium property not paid by insurance proceeds if such damage is caused by the intentional conduct, negligence, or failure to comply with rules by a unit owner or by a unit owner’s family, occupants, tenants, or other invitees. The unit owner’s responsibility also includes costs to repair or replace the personal property of other unit owners and any property that the unit owners are required to insure. Damages can include loss of use and diminution in the value or the cost of repairs to restore the property.
A unit owner may have grounds to file a complaint against the Association containing a count for “Breach of Governing Documents” alleging that the Association had breached and continued to breach the Governing Documents. A second count for an “Injunction” may seek enforcement of the various applicable covenants and restrictions in the Association’s governing documents.
An HOA’s Governing Documents
There are several factors that contribute to what a homeowner’s association will and will not be liable for when a Florida condo owner has suffered property damage. One of the issues which will impact this determination is the spelling out of responsibilities in the HOA governing documents. Another key will be any limitations that the governing documents place on HOA responsibility. It will be important to check the declarations to determine what is covered and what is excluded. With that said, Fla. Stat. 718 gives Condominium Associations a non-delegable duty to maintain common areas. Thus, it is the responsibility of the Association and/or its board of directors to maintain, repair and replace common elements. Unit Owners are specifically restricted from making any alterations or modifications to any of the common elements. Section 718.303(1), Florida Statutes, provides a cause of action for damages or equitable relief that may be pursued by either an association or unit owner. Liability for violating Chapter 718 or the association’s governing documents may be imposed on the association, unit owners, directors, and tenants. § 718.303, Fla. Stat. The broad language of this statute encompasses a wide variety of violations.
Contact A Florida Property Damage Attorney If Your Condo Has Been Damaged
Contact our office today at 321-415-9012 to speak with one of our insurance attorneys if you would like to discuss the particulars of your situation. We present the material contained on our website and pages, including this Blog, for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal advice and does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you need legal or other professional advice, you should consult with legal counsel about your particular facts and circumstances. Contact us to see how we may be able to fight for you!