Condo line: Who can use handicap space in private parking area?

Q. Our condominium is currently developer-controlled, but soon to be turned over to the owners. We have encountered an issue with our private/paid parking area under the building. The parking is purchased and privately deeded to the owner. The county forced the developer to place one handicapped spot in this area even through this area is considered “private paid parking” and access should be granted only to those individuals who bought the parking spots.

There is an owner who lives in the building who is handicapped and forced the developer’s association (by threatening to contact the federal government) if he was not given a gate clicker to access the handicapped spot. The other owners do not think it is fair for someone to use a private paid parking spot without paying for it.

What can be done to stop this owner from abusing the open spot? There is also another owner whose son is handicapped who was using the spot, but then a fight broke out among the handicapped individuals and a car was vandalized. There are plenty of handicapped spots outside the private, purchased parking area, and more could be added outside if necessary.

K.M., Hutchinson Island

A. Handicapped parking cannot be reserved for one owner. Such parking is open to any handicapped person. Since the developer is still in control of the condominium, I suggest that the developer seek guidance from his attorney.

If I were the manager, I would advise the board to tell all owners that handicapped parking is open for the first handicapped person who gets there and cannot be reserved.

Q. I recently read your column where you advised that a leak from an upstairs apartment causing damage below is not the responsibility of the upstairs apartment. I disagree with your answer. This happened to me recently, and the upstairs apartment owner paid for my repairs. Can you print a retracted answer stating that only the upstairs apartment would be responsible?

C.D., Sunny Isles Beach

A. No, my answer was correct in that all owners would be responsible for repairing damage to their units. The exception would be that the condominium would be responsible for repairing or replacing unfinished drywall. If the upstairs owner repaired your damage, consider yourself lucky.

The best source to verify my answer is your insurance agent. Find out what your insurance policy will cover for damage claims. Find out whether your insurance will pay for damage to other units.

In 2005, after the hurricane damage of 2004, the state changed the condominium laws to require all owners to obtain insurance to cover damage to their own units. Over the next couple of years this law was modified, and now only recommends owners’ insurance.

I have had personal experience as the manager of a high-rise building where an upper-floor unit flooded several units on lower floors. One of the owners who suffered damage sued the owner in whose unit the flood originated. The judge ruled that each owner was responsible for his own damage and that the upper-floor owner was not negligent, nor did he intend to cause damage to the other units.

All condominium unit owners should carry insurance to cover damage or losses to their unit and personal property. This insurance coverage will cover only your property and not the property of other unit owners. If your unit causes damage to those below, will you be required to pay for damage to the units? No, you will not.

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