Condo properties in Ft. Lauderdale are frequently affected by mold damage. This is due to the unique combination of humidity and heat conditions in the area that create the conditions for mold growth. If you are just moving to the area, you should be informed of how mold can affect your condo unit. Some areas in condo units that are commonly affected by mold include:
- Fixtures and furniture
- Air conditioning systems and vents
Surprisingly, the area of greatest concern in your unit will likely be your air conditioning system. This is because mold can either grow in the unit or enter it from outside, and then consequently be dispersed throughout the unit through the fan and vents.
Therefore, before spending any funds to repair damage from mold, be sure to include a thorough inspection and cleaning of your air conditioning unit so that mold does not spread any further in the unit.
Am I responsible for the Costs of Repairing Mold Damage, or will the Condo Association Cover It?
Generally speaking, every condo association in Ft. Lauderdale is required to carry a master plan for insurance covering the common elements
of the condominium complex. Common elements include parking lots and elevators, and not individual units. Therefore, if mold damage is found within an individual unit, it will not usually be covered by the master plan. Furthermore, mold is a slow-forming growth and is not considered to be an unforeseen “casualty” for insurance purposes.
However, there can be instances where the association is responsible for costs related to mold damages. For Ft. Lauderdale condos, the common dispute is where a water leak (such as from a bursting heater) from a common element has intruded into an individual unit and subsequently caused mold damage. In the event a water intrusion from a common area causing mold damage in a unit, the unit owner should take the following steps:
- Notify the association or a board member immediately of the problem, specifically informing them that the source of the water intrusion is from a common element which they are responsible for maintaining
- Document in writing any damages to your property, using photographs and video
- Request the association to take steps to repair the water leak in the common element
- If the association has exhibited a major delay in repairs of the common element, only then can a unit owner file for statutory relief in the form of damages or an injunction. Even then, depending on the extent of the delay and damage, a court might limit relief according to Florida condo insurance laws.
Other common situations where it might be possible to recover damages due to mold are for landlords who have rented out their unit and lost rent income due to mold damage, or for air conditioning units that were found to be defective or containing mold when installed.
How can Mold Damage be Prevented?
For unit owners in Ft. Lauderdale, general inspections and cleaning procedures will usually prevent mold buildup. Keeping all areas dry will help eliminate the conditions necessary for mold to grow in. Special efforts should be made to regularly clean and empty appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, as well as any other moisture-containing devices.
For condo associations and board members, Florida state law requires that the association take steps to ensure that the condo premises will not cause damage to individual units. Some associations have elected to institute their own standards and procedures to minimize mold-related damages. You may wish to propose an informational weekend seminar or publish mold guideline pamphlets to be distributed for the purpose of educating residents.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Assist Me in My Claim for Damages from Mold?
Since mold growth may be common to Ft. Lauderdale condo units, severe damage may warrant the attention of a real estate lawyer
. Also, if the mold damage is the result of the inattention of the condo association or negligent construction, you might have a claim for statutory relief in the form of monetary reimbursement or an injunction mandating the association to take action. The laws governing Ft. Lauderdale condominiums can be somewhat complex, but there are many lawyers in the area who specialize in condominium dispute law.