Who’s Responsible For Soaking?

(WSVN) - People across South Florida are scrambling to dry out their homes and businesses, and it’s left them to wonder if they’re responsible, or is someone else? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

The streets are flooded, the parking lots are full, the roofs are soaked and, of course, all that water will find a place to go.

Katherine Pilgrim, condo is soaked: “I’ve been vacuuming water every 30 minutes while it was raining yesterday.”

Katherine’s condo is on the fourth floor. When Eta hit, it felt like it was under water.

Katherine Pilgrim: “That wet vac in there, that holds, I think, five gallons. We were emptying every hour.”

The rain came pouring in her wall Saturday, on Sunday and Monday. Even more infuriating? Katherine and her husband had just bought new furniture.

Katherine Pilgrim: “I was battling water coming out and ruining the new couches that I just bought and carpet and all the whole living room set.”

Obviously, their condo roof has holes, a lot of holes.

Just as obvious, nothing is being done about it.

Katherine Pilgrim: “The maintenance supervisor told me that there was nothing they could do. You are just going to tell everyone that you’re just supposed to deal with the flood?”

Whether you own a condo or rent an apartment, do you have to just deal with this, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “No, the roof is leaking. Put a tarp up there immediately until you can repair or replace that roof. As for all the damage the water causes in your unit, file a claim with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and if the association was negligent in maintaining the building, you can go after them, as well. You can also just hire a public adjuster to do it for you.”

From the roofs of condos to the front doors of buildings.

Greg Robbins, business flooded: “We are at a loss. We don’t know what to do.”

On Saturday night, as Eta soaked us, Greg checked the security cameras at his business to see water coming in.

Greg Robbins: “We’re doing whatever we can within our power to mitigate the onslaught of water.”

Here’s the infuriating part: a week before Eta hit South Florida, another rain storm flooded Greg’s parking lot and office. He spent $15,000 to repair that water damage.

Greg Robbins: “They had a full week to clear the drains out after the first flood last week, and they let an entire week go by without any action.”

Greg had taken pictures of the storm drains after the first flood. Notice the water sitting there.

Now, look at the same drain as Eta soaked him. The water flows by. The drain is not draining at all.

Greg Robbins: “Building management says that it is just not their responsibility. What is the responsibility of the management to provide adequate security against stuff like this, so that’s the real question.”

And Howard, the real answer?

Howard Finkelstein: “If the drain is on private property and management was notified and did nothing, they are financially responsible for the damage the water caused to Greg’s business. If the drain is the property of the government and they ignore it, then they are responsible for the damage, and if it’s an architectural or structural problem, the developer could be responsible.”

Regarding Greg’s problem, the property’s attorney claimed they had fulfilled all their obligations under the lease and would not comment any further.

As for Katherine’s problem, the condo president told us 54 units had problems from Tropical Storm Eta. They were going on the roof to try to fix the issue and then would go into condos to assess damage and fix other problems.

Hurry up, Katherine says.

Katherine Pilgrim: “Because I can’t even repair anything inside because if it rains again, it’s just going to all get wet.”

And it’s still raining. By the way, if rising water comes into your property and you have flood insurance, file a claim with them, and a reminder if you took pictures or videos, save them because they can help you with your claim.

Trouble raining down on you? Need to soak up some legal knowledge? Pour the problem out to us and see if we can flood you with some decent answers.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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