The best legal defense is to never need it. To avoid messy legal trouble, owners should document damage, get a permit for any work and follow HOA rules.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Another year passed, and it was a doozy in the real estate world. 2022 turned out to be quite the roller-coaster ride, with rising interest rates, cooling prices, and the shift away from being a seller’s market.
In this space over the past year, we discussed new problems and rehashed some classics. I have put together a few thoughts to help you navigate the ebbs and flows of the 2023 real estate market.
- Records: Document everything. When something happens, take notes and photographs as soon as you can. If you communicate with someone on the phone, follow up with an email. It is easy for someone to deny what was said on a phone call, but a follow-up email or photo creates a permanent record. In my experience, photos, notes, and emails carry more weight with the court than recounting the memory of what was said a long time ago.
- Damages: When your home is damaged, the first thing you should do is stop it from getting worse. Too many people will let the problem fester while they try to get the person who caused the problem to fix it. If the problem later turns into a lawsuit, it is hard to recover for damage you could have avoided.
- Insurance: No one likes to pay for insurance, but you should still maintain the best insurance you can afford. Repairs are expensive and tend to be necessary at the most inconvenient moments. Lawyers are expensive, and even a small lawsuit, like one from your downstairs neighbor because of a leaking pipe, can lead to a massive legal bill that proper insurance would have covered. And yes, this applies to individual insurance covering your condominium unit. The building’s policy rarely provides the unit owner with much help.
- HOAs: If you live in a community association, be ready to follow the rules. Association living is a trade-off. Know your community’s rules before you agree to live there.
- Permits: Even though getting permits is a hassle, if you get in trouble for unpermitted work or if the work is not done to code, it will be difficult and expensive to fix. And unpermitted work is usually found when trying to sell your home, which is far from the best time to deal with it.
Thank you for trusting me to help with your real estate law problems. I hope that my words have helped, at least a little. I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2023.
Copyright © South Florida Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All rights reserved.