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Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017
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Board requires removal of bench

Q: My mother fell on the wet walk on the top floor near her unit just after it was pressure washed. Although she did not suffer any broken bones, she was required to have physical therapy to help gain strength. To help, I placed a small bench at the end of the walk to allow her to take short walks with a place to rest and enjoy the fresh air. The board required me to remove the bench because I never asked to place the bench on the common area walk. Their answer included remarks like, "If she has difficulty, get a wheelchair," and "This is not an assisted living facility." We are stunned by the board's callous reply. I request your comments about this troubling situation. W.S., Indian Rock Beach A: For some reason a few boards feel that if they have the appearance of caregiving or nursing, it devalues the property. In one case, a board rejected adding handicap parking when they had available spaces at the clubhouse because they were afraid it would make the community appear to be a community of older persons. Make sure the board has your request in writing. Send it by certified mail and ask that they discuss it at the next board meeting.
Q: Our condominium has had two water leakage problems. The first is the drain from the air conditioner and the second is from blowing rain that penetrates the walls. The board has confirmed that the AC drain is the owners' responsibility as listed in our documents. However, the leak from the water that penetrates walls has resulted in the board paying for the water removal and repairs to the drywall. This has resulted in several thousands of dollars being used from our reserves to clean up and fix the penetration problems. Why is the expense of the water removal part of the condominium expense when the AC drain is not a common expense? A.P., Dunedin A: As to air conditioning drains, in Florida they seem to be blocked by some types of fungus or mildew and need a regular cleanout. I would suggest that all AC drains be checked every six months. It is best to flush with high pressure water or blow with a high pressure air compressor to keep it unclogged. As you said, it is a document requirement that the members are responsible for the AC drain. As to why the board chose to pay for water extraction, that's something you will need to ask them. Maybe they felt that if the board would pay for the cleanup action it would save on legal costs if an owner sued. You are correct in that each owner would be responsible for the repairs to their personal property. Thus the water removal should have been their expense. Maybe your documents have other obligations to water penetration and the board accepted that duty. Maybe your board felt that neglect on their part created the leak and wanted to cut the loss.

Richard White is a licensed community association manager. He does not offer legal opinions; any other questions and comments concerning association operations can be sent to Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven FL 33884-4115; or email camquestion@cfl.rr.com.
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