Q&A: Tackling a Mold Issue

Q I am a shareholder of a co-op apartment building. I have a mold problem which  stems from water damage coming through the outside bricks. I had a mold  assessment company take air and material samples. It was determined that there  is extensive mold growth and damage. I assume the management company is  responsible for any and all cleaning and repairs to my unit?  

 —Responsible in Riviera Beach

A “In order to address your question, it is necessary to first identify what a  cooperative is,” says attorney Joshua D. Krut, a partner with the Fort Lauderdale-based law firm  of Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske, P.L. “A cooperative is a legal entity consisting of individual shareholders. Unlike a  condominium or homeowners’ association, owners in a cooperative do not own or hold title to their  particular unit. Rather, the cooperative grants each shareholder the right to  occupy one unit (subject to an occupancy agreement, like a lease) and share the  communal resources of the cooperative. Florida Statutes, Chapter 719 governs  all cooperatives located within the state. Although Florida Statutes § 719.104(1) permits the association to access each unit during reasonable hours  to repair any structural components of the building necessary to prevent  damage, the statute does not address whether the association bears the cost or  liability for these repairs. In addition to the statutes, cooperatives are  governed by their articles of incorporation and their bylaws. The bylaws may  contain provisions governing repairs, including provisions addressing whether  the association or individual shareholders are responsible for repairs of the  individual units. The occupancy agreement may also provide insight into what  repairs the unit owner is responsible for. For example, many occupancy  agreements state that the shareholder is responsible for everything in their  apartment, including fixtures, and the cooperative is only responsible for the  building envelope and the pipes inside the walls. If the water damage causing  the mold is originating from the outside bricks, it is likely that the  cooperative would have to pay for any repairs, since the outside bricks are  part of the building envelope. However, when determining whether the  association is “on the hook” for repairs, it’s best to consult the governing documents and your occupancy agreement for  clarity.”  

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2 Comments

  • The co-op's pipe burst, flooded my apt in 2012. There has been an aggravated situation for almost 2 years/ mold, damages to my unit, health and medical issues. The pipe was never repaired properly, mold continued, and the pipe burst again in June 2014. Senior Help Line FL suggested I look for an atty familiar with these issues. at wits end, T
  • I own a co op and have water damage on the outside my bedroom window. The management has tried to repair this to no avail. I feel sick .