Q. My mother fell on the wet walk on the top floor near her unit just after it was pressure washed. While she did not suffer 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 and have a place to rest and enjoy the fresh air. The board required me to remove the bench because I never asked to place it on the common area walk. Their answer gave remarks like, “if she has difficulty, get a wheelchair” and “this is not an assisted living facility.” My letters from the condominium association are totally unsympathetic to her problems. I stated in my request that the bench was only a minor alteration to help a much-needed medical situation. We are stunned by the board’s callous reply. I request your comments about this troubling situation.
W.S., Indian Rock Beach
There is no simple answer to a board that does not respond to a request involving a disabled or injured person. I have learned that you never suggest that a disabled or injured person get a wheelchair. In many situations, such an event may mean that once in the wheelchair, they will never walk again because they lose the strength and capability.
For some reason a few boards feel that if there is the appearance of a carekeeper or nurse, it devalues the property. In one case the board rejected adding handicapped parking when they had available spaces at the clubhouse because they were afraid it would make the community appear to be one of older persons. There is an old saying that you should not judge a person until you walk in their shoes. In the case of the boards, this is something that you cannot teach them, only try to explain and hope for the best. Make sure that the board has your request in writing; it is best to send certified mail, and request that the subject be discussed at the next board meeting.
Q. A few years back I was told that I needed to carry unit owners insurance. The condominium provides insurance for the exterior but not the inside of my unit. Has the law changed and do I not need to have insurance?
In 2004 Florida was hit with four hurricanes. Several condominiums found that some unit owners did not have insurance to cover inside repairs. Some of these owners walked away from their units. These condominiums found that the abandoned units were developing mold and mildew and many were open to the elements. State lawmakers quickly jumped to change the law and require that all condominium owners buy insurance. In the next couple of years, this law was changed to not requiring thecoverage. Owners are not necessarily required to have unit owners insurance but the lack of it does not eliminate the responsibility for any repairs or replacements to their personal property or repairs of the structure of their unit. I suggest that all condominium unit owners contact an insurance agent and find out the cost and what it covers.
Q. I have signed a contract to have a home constructed in a homeowner association (HOA). I requested a copy of the covenants and was given a computer disk. The covenants contain more than 100 pages. I do not feel that I should be responsible for making a hard copy from the disk. Are they complying with FS 720 by giving me a computer disk as opposed to a hard copy?
D.P., Orange City
Normally the seller is required to provide the set of documents, not the association. I am unclear if the developer/contractor still retains control of the HOA. If they are not in control, then the association would only have the duty to have copies, maybe hard copies, available for purchase. I would go back to the party that you purchased the lot from and ask for the hard copy you want. My guess is that if you have to purchase a set of the documents from the association, it would charge $20 to $25. If you take the disk to a printing business, the cost would be half that amount. The statutes only require the HOA to have a sufficient number of documents available for purchase. I am sure that a computer disk is not only a more efficient way to provide copies; it would be low in cost. Welcome to the digital age.