A few weeks ago, in my post, David Thompson’s Dirty Dozen Condo Insurance Exclusions, I wrote about property elements that were excluded from the master condominium policy under Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(f). I left that post a little open-ended by not nailing down how specific property items that are not expressly excluded in the statute would be treated, and I received a few questions following that post. To recap, Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(f)3 excludes from a master condominium insurance policy: (1) “personal property”, (2) a list of specific items such as floor coverings and electrical appliances, and (3) items that are “located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.”
The first question I received involved the statutory language of “personal property.” Under general property law principles, tangible personal property is privately owned property that is movable. This mobility distinguishes this type of property from real property, which is for the most part, immovable. Some personal property, however, can become part of the real property when properly affixed to it. For example, one can purchase a kitchen cabinet, roll of carpet, window shutter, or can of paint from a home improvement store. At the time of sale, the law would classify those items as personal property. Once those items are properly installed onto real property, such as a condominium unit, their classification in the eyes of the law will generally change to being part of real property, or fixtures. The law of fixtures is complex and beyond the scope of this post, but if there is sufficient interest, I may address it in more detail in a later post.
I also received a question regarding air conditioning units. The question came up not as I had posed it, as to whether an air conditioning unit would be considered an appliance or electrical fixture, but rather how it would be handled in light of the statutory language that excludes items “located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.” This raises an issue over how a split system air conditioning unit that has components located both outside and inside the boundaries of a condominium unit would be handled under the statute. Setting aside the possibility of excluding an air conditioning unit as being an appliance or electrical fixture, Fla. Stat. § 718.111(11)(n) gives more guidance on the obligations of an association to repair property items that serve only one unit:
The association is not obligatedto pay for any reconstruction or repair expenses due to property loss to any improvements installed by a current or former owner of the unit or by the developer if the improvement benefits only the unit for which it was installed and is not part of the standard improvements installed by the developer on all units as part of original construction, whether or not such improvement is located within the unit. This paragraph does not relieve any party of its obligations regarding recovery due under any insurance implemented specifically for such improvements.
While it appears that based on this statutory language, an association would not be required to repair the part of an air conditioner that is outside a condominium unit, each insurance policy is different, and the facts of each claim are never the same, so please contact proper counsel for assistance with your specific facts.