Condo Line

Who’s responsible for fixing cracks in stucco?


By Richard White

Q: My homeowner association documents say that the association shall at all times maintain the exterior surfaces of the dwellings and other improvements as originally constructed by the developer. The documents also say that each owner is responsible for the repair maintenance and/or replacement at his expense for all portions of the dwelling and other improvements constructed on his lot.

My home has developed cracks in the stucco. The board and manager say that the repairs to my stucco are at my expense. There seems to be a conflict between these two documents. What is the answer and who is responsible to repair these cracks?

Anonymous, Palm Harbor

A: I cannot provide interpretation of your documents as that requires an attorney. However, if you read the association’s responsibilities it clearly says that the association is responsible for the surface and you are responsible for repairs to the structure. There’s a thin line between surface and the finished surface. The unfinished surface would be the stucco and I must assume that you are responsible to repair the cracks. For final review and answer, I suggest you have an attorney review the documents.

Q: Your column continuously refers to condominium and homeowner associations. Where do we as a property owners association stand as to Florida laws?

R.H., Sebastian

A: The title to your property is the key to the answer. There are three types of association titles: condominium, cooperatives, and homeowner associations. When we address associations you could be called by a host of other names. They include but not limited to master deed association, deed restricted communities, resident-owned communities, townhome communities, zero lot line communities, as well as property owners associations and a host of other similar names.

Most documents include the Articles of Incorporation. Usually in the first paragraph of the Articles you will find the statute that governs the association. Also, your deed would have certain key phrases or words that define the type of title you hold.

• The condominium statute is FS 718. The title to the property is held jointly by all owners that own an undivided interest in the common elements. The key words that you will find in your deed is undivided percentage of ownership.

• Cooperatives fall under statute FS 719. The property title is held by a corporation and the owners own a share of stock as proof of ownership and receive a proprietary lease to occupy the unit.

• Homeowner associations have a different type of title. A corporation owns the common elements and each owner has title to a lot and a required membership to the association. Homeowner association statutes are FS 720.

POA usually is just another name for HOA, but read the Articles in your documents and see what your deed says about title.

Q: Our original documents excluded motorcycles from parking on the property for good reason — space and noise. Recently one of our board of directors used his position to change the documents to allow his motorcycle to be parked on the property. He sneaked in the document change in a not-so-obvious section to be voted on by the owners.

The spot allowed for motorcycle parking is next to master bedrooms in a stack of units in one building I would hope he would be considerate when entering and leaving the property but he has now opened up our parking area for anyone with a motorcycle. We have 96 units and this affects five units directly.

I do not foresee another vote to undo this change. Do you have any suggestions about correcting this change?

B.A., Indian Shores

A: In your question there are three potential problems: the legal drafting of the amendment, the process of voting, and a total neglect of the owners not reading what they’re voting.

From the information provided, it appears they did not use an attorney to draft the change to the documents. Was it recorded? I suggest you send a letter to the board asking them to have the association attorney render an opinion letter addressing whether modification and voting were done correctly.

Some changes to the documents would require 100 percent approval. This may not fall under that 100 percent requirement, but maybe one of the five affected units could challenge this change in court.

To me the most disturbing situation is that the members voted for a change that they did not read or understand. Far too often members just vote and do not understand what they’re voting on.

Write to Condo Line, Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115, or e-mail Include name and city.

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