Real estate Q&A: Repair project renders condo unlivable
QUESTION: We own a rental condominium. The association recently started working on the balcony, saying the rebar was rusted and creating a safety issue. Before we knew it, the work extended into the living room and the condo became completely unlivable. We have endured this for a year now and even had to pay a large special assessment. We have not been able to rent the property but still have to pay the mortgage and association dues. There is no end in sight to this. Is there anything we can do?
ANSWER: Your first step is to talk to your association to address your concerns with the length of the work. The association and the contractor have the responsibility to ensure that the work is being done properly and in a reasonable time.
To have any recourse against your association, you will have to show that the board is being negligent in how it is dealing with the problem. You still need to pay your dues to avoid a lien or even a foreclosure filed by your association. While many people living in condos do not maintain homeowner's insurance, your situation highlights the importance of maintaining a policy. I hope you have one. If so, you should check with your insurance company to see if it has coverage for your situation, such as reimbursement for your loss of ability to use the property.
If you did not buy a policy, you can check with your association to see if the master policy may provide you with some coverage, although this is a long shot. Because not being able to use the condo does not relieve you of your responsibility to repay your mortgage, you should call the lender to see if there is any help available, such as a forbearance plan that allows you to postpone some payments now and add them to the end of the loan.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
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