Q: A vendor working on the common area of our building knocked a hose bib out of the wall, causing a flood in our home. I checked with the association management, and they had no insurance information on file for the vendor. Who is responsible for repairing the damage caused by this vendor’s negligence? — Bob
A: Because the flood was caused by the carelessness of your association’s vendor when working on the common area of your community, the association is ultimately responsible.
The association will most likely make a claim on its insurance, who will look to the vendor for reimbursement.
The vendor’s missing insurance may complicate the insurance claim for your community.
Anybody, including your association, should hire licensed and insured professionals, and their insurance company may use this misstep to reduce or deny that claim.
If this happens, your association will still be responsible for the repairs, but the money will need to come from the community.
Running an association should be treated like running a business, and the leadership needs to make sure that administrative matters, such as this one, get taken care of. Otherwise, a mistake can have consequences for the entire community.
While you are waiting for this to happen, you will need to remove the water and prevent further damage. You are not allowed to sit back and wait.
If you do, you will be responsible for additional repairs caused by the delay. This is called “mitigating your damages.”
Document everything that happens by taking lots of photographs and detailed notes of who you speak to and what was said.
If the situation goes off the tracks, your good documentation will prove invaluable to your attorney.
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 practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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