BIZ-REAL-REALESTATE-QA-DMT

A condo association resident turned on a water valve without asking why it had been shut off, triggering a flood in another apartment. Things may not turn out well for him in litigation.

Q: I live in a condominium apartment and am confined to a wheelchair because of an injury. I pay the same monthly dues as everyone else but cannot get to the pool or other amenities because the stairs are too high.

Since I cannot use the amenities, do I have to keep paying the entire monthly dues?

A: Yes, you still need to pay your entire monthly dues. Your dues do not depend on using an amenity or even having it available.

For example, if an association shuts down the tennis courts for six months, every resident will still need to pay their monthly dues.

When you live in a planned community, you are not shopping for services and paying a la carte for what you use. You own a portion of your community and are partially responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the whole community, including the amenities.

The more significant issue you did not ask about is: Why are the amenities inaccessible to you?

Under the Fair Housing Act, your community must not discriminate against a disabled resident about using the amenities.

Your association should make reasonable modifications to allow you to enjoy the facilities, possibly by widening the walkway and adding a ramp.

Suppose the facilities are even partially open to the public, such as renting rooms in the clubhouse or allowing local groups to use the pool or tennis courts. In that case, it will also be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Then the facilities will need to comply with more stringent accessibility guidelines. A pool lift may need to be installed to assist people entering and exiting the pool, along with other modifications to ensure people with disabilities can also enjoy what your community offers.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

Recommended for you