Help with Property Management Company Negligence

5 Replies

I have a condo in south Florida.  I wanted to rent out the unit and then a flood occurred.  A pipe in the condo association main drain back up and caused a sewage flood to enter my condo through the shower drain.  The condo was vacant at the time.  A remediation company came in to the condo to clean and cut out the contaminated materials.  The property manager refused to replace the drywall that was cut out preventing me from repairing the condo for over 3 months.  In addition, he FALSELY accused me of airborne contamination to the rest of the condo units in the building and told me that I had to seek legal counsel regarding this situation.  The flood happened August 28 and I was prevented from starting the repairs to the condo until the condo manager finally replaced the sewage contaminated drywall in the first week of December.  All the while, I had to pay the expenses on the condo without being able to use it (for the month that the property manager insisted that the unit contained airborne asbestos) or rent it out for the 3 months that he prevented me from repairing the condo.   I lost potential rent during the time that I could not start the repairs (not to mention loss of income from my business while I dealt with this ordeal).

I attempted (on a few occasions) to contact members of the  condo board regarding the actions of the property manager and no one responded.  Since the property management company is First Services Residential (a big company) I put in a complaint to their customer service department.  I was assured (by the customer service agent) that one of the 2 managers supervising our condo manager would contact me right away regarding the situation.  They never did.  I reached out to them and still they never responded.

Our condo association insurance company offered me a  very small amount and said that they would like that I sign the release so that I won't go after the condo association insurance but that I can go after the Property Management company  Errors and Omissions insurance for the property manager's (at that time - he is gone now) negligence.

My question is:  What is the most effective way of approaching this?

@Lisa Mauritis, I am sorry that you had this experience.  

My first response is that you should be in a good situation in FL, given the degree to which the state regulates community association managers.  Or, maybe not.  It doesn't seem like your experience was any better than would be expected in a totally unregulated state like AL (for Community Association Management, not Property Management, that is...).  Maybe the roles of the people involved need to be clarified.

Does First Services Residential manage the Condo Association as an Association, such has keeping books, monitoring for violations, managing contractors, etc (and therefore subject to the regulations) or does it simply do physical repairs to the common and limited common elements?  These are separate tasks but can be done by the same company if desired.

Maybe the Condo Association is self-managed and hires First Services Residential to do the repair work.  Or if there is a Community Association Management Company, does FSR serve as a sub-contractor to them?

I am not a lawyer, and this response cannot be considered legal advice, but I believe that it is necessary for you to pull all of the condo documents that you can (covenants, bylaws, rules, notices, etc.) and develop as complete an understanding of who is responsible for what, etc. before deciding what else to do.  I believe that any attempt to resolve the issue will immediately run into the response "What do the condo documents say?"  No court is likely to review the case without reference to those documents.  Maybe the answer is right there in a policy the board created.

I also recommend getting in touch with your personal insurance company (contents and alterations coverage), which I assume you have, even if you didn't mention it.  Our condo insurance (on our unit) covers loss of rental income for the period the condo is not in rentable condition due to a covered event.

Hope this helps.  Let us know how it goes.

@Lisa Mauritis  I would document everything that has transpired (dates, names of people spoke to, etc.) and leave to minor details out, gather up all the condo docs and any other documents you can think of.  Your insurance company should be contacted and I would begin to seek to advice of an attorney.   

This is going to get messy.    

@mic

@Michael Dake and @Steve Racicot I have not gone through the condo docs.  I tried to look at them but it's a stack approximately 2" high.  Also, many of the revision pages have been photo copies and not clear.  In addition, I understand that although they (the condo docs) are supposed to be filed with the county, they are not.  

@Michael Dake to answer your question, first services residential completely manage the condo.  They run the show here.  The property management condo manager told me this.  

I guess I have to find an attorney.  So that I don't lose more money, does anyone how to find one that can help me recover my loses from the first services errors and omissions insurance on a contingency basis?

also, I forgot to mention that first services residential has had a complaint filed against them with their regulatory body.  I don't know how the investigation turn out.  The same regulatory body suggested that I file a complaint against them as well and they would investigate further.   I am not sure what the penalty is, or if I will recover my losses due to their negligence.

Did you try to file with your own insurance carrier?  They might get the ball rolling.  If not, send a letter or call the state ins. commission to see if they will put some pressure on the E and O insurance and investigate.  Ultimately, you may need to call a lawyer, consumer protection or bad faith insurance lawyer.

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