Q: We had a water leak below the slab at our condo. We filed a claim with our insurance company which is paying for the repair. Our condo association won’t pay my deductible. Many residents have told me that since the leak was outside the condo, the association is responsible for the entire cost. What do I do? — Louis
A: Each condominium association deals with this situation based on the terms of the declaration of condominium and other association documents. Review these documents to see where your responsibility ends and your association’s begins.
Generally, determining who is responsible for a repair transitions at the unit’s walls. The association is responsible for what is inside the walls, the exterior of the building, and the common areas. Each unit owner is responsible for the inner wall and what is inside their apartment.
While this is the most common way, you must confirm how your community does it by reviewing your association’s documents.
Your question states your insurance company is paying for the repairs. This indicates that despite what your neighbors say, the damage is your responsibility because your insurance is covering the claim.
In your case, since it seems you are responsible for the repairs, you will need to pay the deductible.
If your association was responsible for the damage, it would also have to cover the deductible.
Your condominium documents could make the association responsible for the damage to their part of the building while leaving you to fix the damage to your unit.
In this case, your insurance company would retain the right to look to your association for reimbursement if the damage was caused by your association because of negligence or neglected maintenance.
After you review the documents and your insurance policy, speak with your insurer to see who they believe is responsible and to coordinate your attempt to get your community to reimburse you for the deductible.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.