Q: We recently conducted the annual fire sprinkler inspection for our condo association. During this process we were not able to gain entry to several units due to keys not working or no keys on file. In light of the recent storm and reports of water intrusion, our board president wanted our CAM to check all the units that appear vacant for possible water intrusion or signs of any damage to the units. What is the best and safest way to access these “abandoned” units to make sure there is not significant mold or water damage?
A: Even it may not be stated in your condo documents, the association does have the right under Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, to inspect possible damage to common elements and to make emergency repairs. The entry and inspection must be during “reasonable hours”. For any units that are known to be vacant and abandoned, I would not be concerned with “posting” a notice. For any units that are occupied and which you do not have a key or the owner is refusing access, the owner will be responsible for any damage that occurs for refusing to provide access. If you have to change any of the locks to gain access, I would send a short notice to the owners’ last known address informing them that the association is keeping the new key to the unit at the association’s office, which was made necessary by their failure to provide emergency access.