Q: My wife and I live in a 65-unit condo in Boca Raton, FL. We have lived here for 20 years. We live on the 2nd floor. My question is now my wife is confined to a wheelchair and the condo needs to make repairs on the elevator and it will be shut down for 2 or 3 days. We have to get a hotel while the work is done, as there is no way she can get anywhere, as our car is parked two levels down. Is the condo association responsible for my extra expenses?
J.T., Boca Raton, FL
A: This is a very interesting and challenging fact pattern. There is an arbitration case with a similar fact pattern where the association had to complete some repairs to the penthouse unit, and the association had the option of accessing the unit from the roof or from the unit below. The association opted to access the unit from the unit below because it was cheaper, but by doing so, that required the owners of the penthouse unit to vacate the unit and stay in a hotel. The Arbitrator ruled that because the association had a choice of how to complete the repair where one method of repair forced the owners to stay in a hotel and the other method allowed the owners to remain in the unit, and the association elected to complete the repair in a manner that forced the owners to stay in a hotel, the association was required to pay for the costs associated with the hotel stay.
Your fact pattern states that your car is parked two levels down, so if it is possible for the association to temporarily reassign a parking space for you to use during the repairs that would allow you to access your unit without the need for the elevator, and the association did not temporarily reassign a parking space for your use, then you may have a claim against the association for your additional expenses because they did not make a reasonable accommodation.
However, if a parking space isn’t available that can be temporarily reassigned, and there is only one way for the association to complete the repairs, then it is unknown whether you would have a valid claim against the association for your additional expenses, and the association’s obligation in that instance might only be to provide you with advance notice of the repairs to the elevator so that you can make other accommodations during the period of time that the elevator will be under repair.
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