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:
- 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.
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.
In the event the mold damage comes from a common area, the unit owner should:
- Immediately notify the association or a board member of the problem
- Specify that the source of the mold is from a common element
- Document any damages to property, including the use of photographs and video if necessary
- Request that the association take steps to repair the water leak
- 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:
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.
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 and property lawyers 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.