W.G. from Broward County, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
A unit owner repairs the leaky ceiling in her unit (no personal damage). She sold the unit and moved to another state. Now she heard that the work men who caused damage have paid the board some money. She is demanding to get some of the money. Is she right? Could you email me your answer?
Mister Condo replies:
W.G., while I am glad that the work men responsible for the damage have made payment for their damage, I really don’t have enough information to answer your question. As a former unit owner, she has very little legal standing with the association. I guess my question here is more ethical than legal (keep in mind I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column). If the association suffered no damage from the work men, why is the association being paid? If the damage was specifically to her unit and she paid to remedy the damage, why wouldn’t the association offer to repay her for the work? The way you worded the question it sounds like this is the case. If so, why would the association expect to profit from the unit owner’s loss? It may or may not be illegal but it is highly unethical. On the other hand, if the association was damaged and the money is restitution for the damage to the association, the association may be under no obligation to give any of the money to the unit owner. There is also the question of dollar amount. Are we talking a few hundred dollars, a few thousand dollars, more? How much money did the homeowner pay to fix the damage? The higher the amount, the more worthwhile it may be for her to pursue a legal remedy if she is entitled. Boards are charged with using Good Business Judgement. I would say this is a case where that would come in handy. All the best!