Disputes regarding mold damage to condo properties can be quite common in the Miami area. Mold tends to be the result of a combination of heat and moisture. The unique hot and humidity and weather conditions of Miami create fertile conditions for mold within a unit. Some common areas of an individual condo unit that might be affected by mold are:

  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Drywall
  • Carpets
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Air Conditioning Systems

Of these areas, the one of greatest concern would typically be the air conditioning system. Many condo owners are not aware that air conditioning systems can grow mold within the lining of the system and through the intake system, where can be further dispersed throughout the unit. Therefore, before taking any measures to repair exterior damage from mold, the air conditioning unit should be thoroughly checked.

Who Is Responsible for the Costs of Repairing Mold Damage?

Generally speaking, the condo association is required to carry a general insurance master plan for the common elements of the condominium complex. Common elements include areas such as parking lots and lobbies, and not individual units. Therefore, mold damage found within a unit will not typically be covered by the master plan. Moreover, since mold is a slow-forming growth, it may not be considered an unforeseen “casualty” for insurance purposes.

However, there are instances where the association or board may be responsible for costs associated with mold damages. The most common instance in Miami is where a water leak from a common element – such as a pipe – has intruded into an individual unit and caused subsequent mold damage.

What Should an Owner Do If Mold Damage from a Common Area Is Discovered?

In the event the mold damage comes from a common area, the unit owner should:

  1. Immediately notify the association or a board member of the problem
  2. Specify that the source of the mold is from a common element
  3. Document any damages to property, including the use of photographs and video if necessary
  4. Request that the association take steps to repair the water leak
  5. If the association exhibits severe delays in repairs, the owner should consider filing a lawsuit for relief in the form of damages or an injunction. Depending on the severity of the delay and damage, a court may limit relief under Florida insurance laws.

Other commons instances where recovery for mold damage might be possible include:

  • Landlords who have rented their property and lost income from rent due to mold damage.
  • Where air conditioning units that were found to be defective, either causing or containing mold when installed.

What Steps Can Be Taken to Prevent Mold Damage?

For unit owners, general inspections and cleanliness procedures will usually suffice in the prevention of mold buildup. Keeping carpets and walls dry will help eliminate the conditions necessary for mold to grow. Special care should be taken to regularly clean and empty appliances – such as refrigerators and freezers – as well as any other moisture-rich areas.

For condo associations and board members, Florida law requires that the association ensure that the condo premises will not cause damage to individual units. Some associations have instituted their own standards to minimize mold-related damages. Condo association and board members may wish to consider proposing an informational weekend seminar or publishing mold guidelines to be distributed for the purpose of educating residents.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me With a Claim for Mold Damages?

Since mold growth may be common in the Miami area, damages that are extreme may warrant the attention of a lawyer. Also, if the damage is caused by the inattention of the condo association or negligence, you may have a claim for statutory relief. There are many real estate lawyers in Miami in the Miami area who specialize in the laws governing condominiums, and it may be in your best interest to discuss your concerns with one as soon as possible.