Condo & HOA Law

Who is responsible the owner or the association?

Q: I installed very nice tile on my lanai a few years ago and the Association is now telling me that the tile must be removed in order to do some concrete restoration on the deck. The Association is also telling me that the Association will not replace the tile. This does not seem right. What is the law on this?

S.G., Stuart


This is a frequent question, particularly with respect to lanai improvements because of the periodic need to maintain and repair concrete lanais. The answer revolves around a concept called incidental damage which, as you would imagine, determines who is responsible to make various repairs that are incidental to the Association’s need to maintain, repair and replace the common elements and other property which is contractually required to be maintained, repaired and replaced by the Association. Another common example is when the Association has to remove drywall when necessary to repair a common element pipe and the question is who is responsible to paint the wall? The paint and the wall were not defective, but the Association was unable to maintain its own property (the pipe) without damaging the paint and walls.

The answer is most commonly found in your condominium documents and highly dependent on the language in your condominium documents. The most common language provides that the Association is required to repair and replace your property that is damaged incident to the Association’s responsibility, but also that the Association’s obligation is limited to restoring the property to the condition originally provided by the developer. Thus, if the developer originally sold a unit with a painted concrete floor, then the Association may only be required to restore the property to a concrete floor. In this case, you would be responsible to reinstall similar or different tile on the lanai floor after the repairs are completed.

I would recommend you consult a licensed Florida attorney to review the condominium documents and provide you with an opinion. I have seen condominium documents which provide that the Association must restore the property to its condition immediately before the damage, so it is possible the Association has more or less responsibility than the common provisions I outlined above.

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John C. Goede Esq. is co-founder and shareholder of the Law firm Goede, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC.  T o ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to:  The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys.  Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein.  The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.

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