When disaster strikes in the form of a fire at a condominium, the aftermath can be overwhelming for unit owners. Navigating the obligations of the Condominium Association in such situations is paramount for both peace of mind and required restoration. The Florida Statutes have clear and special guidelines on this, and it’s essential for all involved parties to be informed.
What the Law Says
Section 718.111(11) of the Florida Statutes explicitly details the responsibilities of the Condominium Association after a fire casualty. The aftermath of a fire often goes beyond the flames themselves. Water damage, a frequent side effect from the efforts to extinguish the fire, is also encompassed within these obligations. In some instances, when the roof of the building is damaged in a fire, rain water can enter if the roof was not properly warped. This secondary water intrusion can result in mold damage in the units that were not even affected by the fire.
The Association’s primary duty is to initiate an insurance claim with the Association’s insurance company and promptly restore the unit as it was originally built, adhering strictly to the original plans and specifications. It means that the overall structure, the wall studs, insulation, and drywall, electrical wiring, plumbing and the integral components of the unit must be brought back to their initial state, pre-disaster. This remediation and renovation will, in many cases, need to brought up to current building codes.
Exceptions to the Rule
While the Association bears a significant responsibility in these situations, there are specific exclusions to be aware of. The Association is not responsible for:
- Personal property within the unit.
- Floor, wall, and ceiling coverings.
- Electrical fixtures.
- Water heaters and water filters.
- Built-in cabinets and countertops.
- Window treatments, such as curtains, drapes, blinds, and related hardware.
If replacements for any of the above-listed items are required, they fall outside the Association’s obligations. These are considered to be the unit owner’s responsibility, as they are within the boundaries of the unit and serve only that particular unit.
When the Fire Originates in Your Unit
It’s essential to consider the source of the fire when understanding the responsibilities of the Condominium Association. If the fire’s origin is traced back to your unit, and it’s determined that you were neglectful, leading to the fire, the Association might not be held accountable for the restoration. Such situations can understandably complicate the obligations laid out under Section 718.111 of the Florida Statutes. On the other hand, if the fire’s occurrence was a genuine accident, one that couldn’t have been predicted or prevented, or it wasn’t a result of your own negligence, then the Association might still bear the responsibility to restore the unit in accordance with the requirements mentioned above. Navigating these nuances is crucial, emphasizing the importance of understanding your rights and the Association’s obligations in varied scenarios.
What If The Association Doesn’t Comply?
Being equipped with knowledge is one thing, but what happens if your Condominium Association fails to meet its restoration obligations? The consequences of a fire are daunting enough without facing the added stress of a non-compliant Association. Even if the fire was the fault of another unit owner, the Association is still responsible to restore your Unit back to its original condition. It is not unusual for the Association to attempt to blame a neighboring unit owner and point to that owner as an excuse why it is not responsible for restore your damaged unit. Unfortunately for the Association, this is not a valid reason to decline to restore the other affected units.
If you find yourself in a situation where your unit was damaged by fire, or the water used to extinguish it, and the Association is shirking its complete responsibilities, it might be time to take action. You don’t have to navigate this challenge alone.
Contact Us Today
Our dedicated team at The Mold Lawyers specializes in assisting condo owners facing restoration disputes with their Associations. If your Association is not honoring its legal obligations after a fire disaster, do not hesitate to reach out. Our team is ready to discuss your claim with you. Contact us today for a free case review at 954-241-2260, and let us advocate for your rights and ensure that you get the justice and restoration you deserve.