‘I had to trust that they would take care of it’: Condo owner still waiting on repairs by HOA

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — An Osceola County condominium owner says a bedroom in her unit was stripped down to the studs, after a water leak that her attorney says she legally can’t fix.

That room has been sealed off and unusable for more than 600 days, and it caused the woman’s insurance carrier to drop her coverage. Her attorney says the condo association for Georgetown at Celebration hasn’t stepped up, even though an engineer’s report showed the damage was coming from the building’s envelope.

According to the community’s declarations, window framing and the building’s envelope is the association’s responsibility, meaning the owner can’t fix the damage even if she could afford to.

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Yvonne Morales-Cruz’ guest bedroom has been zipped up with a plastic seal for about 20 months. Inside, it has been stripped down and treated for mold, after water leaked from the ceiling, walls and along the window frame.

“I had to trust that they would take care of it, but the months went by, the months went by, and I didn’t see any type of intervention,” Morales-Cruz said.

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The damage caused Citizens Insurance to drop the owner’s policy last year, and now, within the last month, the twin bedroom on her neighboring unit is having the same issue.

“You put your trust in the association, that’s why you’re paying your dues,” Morales-Cruz said.

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Morales-Cruz’s attorney has put the Georgetown at Celebration on notice, arguing that the association is “violating its own declaration and Florida law” by “ignoring its obligations to maintain, repair, and replace areas of the building envelope and other common elements.”

“I’ve never seen something as bad as this, where an association goes in, they do some caulking, they ultimately remove an entire drywall, and just leave exposed, rotting wood framing, for years,” attorney Nicolette Kramer said.

Kramer points out it’s as much of a health concern as it is a safety issue. Morales-Cruz’ husband is bedridden in home hospice care.

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“I believe the association knows, the board knows, that it’s responsible for the common elements, which includes the wall, framing the sheathing the stucco on the outside, but most importantly, the window framing,” Kramer said.

Now that similar issues have happened around two of the property’s window frames, the owner says she’s worried about the integrity of the building itself.

“I never expected something like this,” Morales-Cruz said.

We reached out by phone and email to the attorney representing the Georgetown at Celebration condo association, but we are still waiting to hear back.

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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.