West Palm Beach, FL asked in Real Estate Law for Florida

Q: I own a condo in Florida. The Condominium association is requiring all water heaters over ten years old to be replaced.

My water heater sits in a pan with a well maintained drain, so the risk of flooding in the event of a leak is mitigated. Can the board legally require replacement, under the threat of legal action to enforce? Our bylaws make no mention of an authorization to require replacement of water heaters after a certain age.

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2 Lawyer Answers

A: Probably. Most modern water heaters have a life of 10 years if you are lucky. The consequences of a water heater failing could be more than just a leak filling up a pan and could flood your unit, which would damage adjacent units. If the condo association adopted this under their Rules and Regulations, which they are authorized to do, a court would find it enforceable because the association has a "reasonable business need."

You could hire a condo lawyer to read your documents to make sure it gives them the proper authorities and check if they follow proper procedure but it will likely cost more than a new water heater.

Jane Kim
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  • Naples, FL
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A: I would answer this question in practical terms. How do they enforce it? They'd enforce it only if there is an actual leak that causes damage that would ordinarily be absorbed by HOA's insurance. In your situation that damage to common elements becomes your responsibility instead of the HOA's. You may enquire of your own insurance if they'd cover it.

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