(WSVN) - He was left with a big bill and a lot of frustration. So he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for answers.
Ricardo Montero knows what it’s like to live in a bad rental apartment.
Ricardo Montero: “The bedroom floor flooded, and I had to move out because black mold is very deadly.”
Then he found a great place to rent… a condo owned by his family.
Ricardo Montero: “And then I moved here thinking a family member as a landlord would be the easiest thing, and it has been.”
Ricardo likes his condo at Gables Park Tower. The parking garage is another story.
Ricardo Montero: “I’m extremely lucky because, what if it fell on my head?”
One afternoon, Ricardo came out to the parking garage to find a piece of the concrete ceiling had fallen on his car.
Ricardo Montero: “Shattered. And I could see that the hood, head light and bumper were damaged.”
The damage didn’t look too bad ’till he took it to a repair shop.
Ricardo Montero: “About $2,000, around there.”
Ricardo has car insurance, but we all know what happens if you file a claim with them, so he asked the association to pay for the damage. The answer?
Ricardo Montero: “Straight out, “We are not paying for nothing. This is not our problem.'”
A board member told him they have a sign that says they aren’t responsible for any vehicle or personal belongings.
Ricardo Montero: “It says for vandalism. Vandalism is different from property damage.”
Ricardo says he found out this is the second time a piece of the garage ceiling has fallen, so while he fights the association, he has given up using his parking space.
Ricardo Montero: “Extremely freaked out. How could you protect yourself from concrete falling? You can’t!”
Well Howard, the association says this sign means they aren’t responsible for pieces of a garage falling. Legally, do you buy that?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No. The sign is talking about theft or vandalism of vehicles. If pieces of the ceiling falls on your car, it’s what the law calls res ipsa loquitur, meaning the thing speaks for itself. Translated, the ceiling is not supposed to fall on you and if does, the law will presumes the people responsible for the garage have to pay for the damage.”
We contacted the Gables Park Tower condo association. The property manager told us they were not going to pay for it. Fortunately, they have an attorney who knows the law and was reasonable.
Steven J. Lachterman asked Rafael to get more estimates. He did, and Lachterman then said the association would pay the lowest estimate, $1,124.
Ricardo Montero: “Which is fine with me. Perfectly happy with that solution.”
Ricardo is getting his car fixed. That’s all he had asked the association to do.
Ricardo Montero: “I am extremely happy. Without Help Me Howard, I would never have got this done. I would never have fixed my car.”
Glad we could help. In this case, the manager and a couple of association board members were flat out wrong. If this happens to you, by law, the association has to give you their attorney’s name. You should email the attorney to let them know what’s going on.
Hit a ceiling attempting to solve a problem? Ready to crash through for a solution? Park it with us. Hopefully we can drop a concrete legal answer on you. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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