Q&A: Who's Responsible for Maintenance?

Q Please comment on the changing of the exterior portions of the condominium, i.e., walls, doors, windows and air conditioners. What is the responsibility of the management company and the owner? Can an owner be sued for installing a new air conditioner, provided by a company with a license and who is insured? Is there any basis for fining an owner for this?”

—Concerned About Changes

A “It’s common for an association’s documents,” says Matt Zifrony, director of the Fort Lauderdale-based law firm of Tripp Scott, “to restrict the types of changes that an owner can make to the exterior of their unit. After all, knowing that your neighbors can’t make certain changes is a big part of why people choose to live in an association setting. If an owner desires to make a change, they’ll likely be required to first receive the approval of their association. The association whether through its management company or otherwise, would be obligated to act reasonably when reviewing a unit owner’s request. It must also treat all unit owners equally. An owner that made changes to the exterior of their unit without obtaining association approval (and regardless of what the change may be) could be subject to an enforcement action brought by the association. Forms of enforcement actions include but are not be limited to bringing suit or seeking to fine the violating owner.

“The likelihood is that an association wouldn’t have a problem with an owner installing a new air conditioner through a licensed and insured installer—but the owner would likely need to ask the association for permission up front in order to install it.”

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  • Choose exterior siidng that does not require a lot of work to keep up. Wood siidng requires staining or painting every few years. It can be a costly proposition, too. Lower-maintenance alternatives include stucco, brick, stone, concrete composite, aluminum siidng, and vinyl siidng. Each option has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. Installed cost, resale value contribution, durability, and dimensional stability are important considerations.
  • Do Florida Condo Statues require unit owners to approve major landscape plans and changes....such as all plants around the perimeter of the building, adding trees, planting eco - friendly plants near the Indian River Lagoon seawall. Our condo Board voted for a special assessment, then authorized one Board member to plan and order the plants and have them planted...the owners only saw a Conceptual plan...not even sure there is a final plan with which plants would go where ! No owners input at all ! Oh, by -the -way entire sections died over the summer and we had no maintenance...weeds grew everywhere .