What Are Common Area Disputes?
Your homeowners' or condominium association’s common elements (also referred to as the “common areas”) refer to areas that are owned by the association (rather than by any particular member(s) of the association). These may include swimming pools, clubhouses, sidewalks, landscaping, lobbies, tennis courts, and more, depending on the type of community. In condominiums and townhomes, common areas may involve roofs, parking lots, HVAC systems, buildings, plumbing, and electrical systems. Meanwhile, single-family home communities may encompass streets, private gates, golf courses, and perimeter walls.
As common areas are perceived as amenities by members and can be costly to maintain, disputes often arise between homeowners and their associations. Common area disputes may involve:
- Failure to make necessary repairs to common areas
- Inadequate maintenance of common areas
- Ignoring damage caused to or by a member in the common areas
- Inaction against a member who has exclusively claimed a common area section
- Transferring a portion of the common area to a member without membership approval
- Allowing the destruction of a common area
A well-functioning homeowners' or condominium association can greatly contribute to maintaining property values and ensuring your peaceful enjoyment of your property. However, a poorly managed association can have the opposite effect, diminishing property values, causing financial strain, and disrupting your life. That's where Murray Law Group comes in: we handle common area disputes and protect your interests as a property owner.
RESOLVING YOUR DISPUTE WITH MURRAY LAW GROUP
If you're facing a dispute with your Homeowner or Condominium Association, the attorneys at Murray Law Group have the expertise to assist you. Collaborating with seasoned inspectors, contractors, and engineers, our team will determine the cause and financial impact of association-related losses. You may consider also following these steps:
- Report the claim to your HOA.
- Locate or request a copy of your HOA governing documents.
- Document everything — take pictures/videos immediately.
- Take steps to protect your property from further damage.
- Save receipts reflecting any work performed or expenses incurred.
- Keep detailed notes of all conversations.
- Retain an attorney to represent your interests and assist in your claim.
Creating Positive Outcomes
WHAT TO DO AFTER A COMMON AREA DISPUTE
Insurance companies may deny coverage for common area disputes for several reasons. Insurance companies engage in bad faith insurance practices by underpaying or denying valid claims, hoping to increase their profits at the expense of their policyholders. Common reasons for denying a common area dispute claim include:
- The property is underinsured
- Insufficient evidence to support payments
- Lack of documentation provided
- Sources of water damage not covered (e.g., sewage backups, flooding)
- Illegal activity or fraud
- Unpermitted work on the property
- Pre-existing damage or wear and tear
- Policy exclusions limiting coverage
- Unpaid policy premiums
Common area dispute claims are often undervalued by the insurance company. Insurance companies and adjusters are not interested in paying out settlements timely and properly. The insurance company wants to keep payouts low and premiums high to improve their profit margin.
Signs your claim may have been underpaid:
- Insurance Company’s Estimate Seems Too Low
If you feel that the estimate is too low, trust your gut and intuition. More often than not, if you suspect the estimate is too low, then it probably is.
- Adjuster Rushed the Property Inspection
By law, the adjuster must inspect your damaged property and issue a damage estimate within 60 days of the loss. Many adjusters rush through the inspection and do not do a thorough investigation, thereby creating an estimate of repairs cost that is artificially low. This is called a low-ball estimate. Whether the adjuster is careless or has bad faith intentions, it can leave you with a lower settlement offer than you need.
- Damage Was Overlooked or Not Accounted For
Review the insurance estimate and the adjuster documents carefully to ensure all damage and repair costs are identified. If damage has been overlooked or not accounted for in the estimate or documents, you need to take action. Failure to act could result in the underpayment of your claim.
- Part of Your Claim Was Denied
If any part of your claim was denied, then your claim may be undervalued. Often the insurance company will deny part of your claim to save money. If your property damage claim has been partially denied, it’s not the end of the claim. The claim can be reopened.
- Offered the Actual Cash Value Instead of Replacement Costs
Your insurance company may also offer to pay the actual cash value instead of the full cost required to replace or repair the property. Depending on your claim and your insurance policy, the insurance company may be underpaying your claim intentionally to save money.
- Wear & Tear or Old Damages
If your insurance company states that the damages are old or are from wear and tear, this may be a sign they are trying to underpay the repairs. If the insurance company did not ask you to make repairs to your property prior to issuing or renewing the insurance policy, and after a claim states damages are from wear and tear or are old damages, it’s assigned there intentionally trying to underpay your claim.
- Told You Do Not Need an Attorney or a Public Adjuster
If you are told you don’t need an attorney or a public adjuster on your claim, then you should call one and ask for a free claims review. Most attorneys or public adjusters will perform a free claim review to sure you are being treated properly under your insurance policy.
- Advised their there is a Lack of Coverage or a Gap in Coverage
Another sign that your insurance company has undervalued your property damage claim is when you have been advised about a lack of coverage or a gap in coverage under your insurance policy. If your insurance company says there is no coverage for certain types of damages or losses, then you should always get a second opinion.
Navigating the complexities of common area dispute insurance claims can be overwhelming. Insurance companies have extensive resources at their disposal, giving them the advantage in negotiations. By retaining an experienced insurance claim attorney, you can ensure that you receive the benefits and compensation you're entitled to under your policy. Our insurance lawyers can help you by:
- Providing a free claims evaluation
- Explaining your legal rights as a policyholder
- Assessing the coverages available under your policy
- Investigating the source of water damage and mold growth
- Hiring experts for unbiased assessments of your damages
- Determining the value of your claim
- Handling communications with your insurance company
- Negotiating with your insurance company
- Filing complaints with the Florida Department of Insurance
- Prosecuting your insurance company in a court of law
- Fighting for a fair settlement on your behalf
CONTACT MURRAY LAW GROUP TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
As your homeowners' and condominium attorneys, Murray Law Group is prepared to deliver swift and effective dispute resolution. We'll discuss your legal options and take assertive steps to safeguard your rights as a property owner. To schedule your free consultation, contact us at 1-855-269-4317 or complete our brief contact form today. Together, we'll explore solutions to protect your rights and your property.