Miami condo collapse leads to call for accountability among property owners, construction companies

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As Nashville grows, unfortunately, certain issues grow along with it. And as tragic as the Miami-area condominium collapse was and continues to be, it has sparked a growing awareness.

Now, area apartment owners, condo associations, construction companies, even insurance companies are reviewing their own practices to ensure something as tragic as the Florida condo collapse, never happens again.

The problem itself isn’t new, rather, a new light is being shined on an old problem.

“The problem were talking about is a negligent or absolute failure of property management companies or owners to take proactive and preventative steps to address and fix problems before they cause death and significant loss of personal property,” said Justin Mitchell, Partner with Farris Bobango.

Could this growing awareness account for more accountability? Mitchell thinks so.

He says he’s seeing more construction companies and property management companies recognizing the need to be more responsible and early to keep this stuff from happening, whether its preventative maintenance to reoccurring inspections.

Though what happened in Florida is not at all likely to happen here, Nashville is dealing with its own set of issues due to the high number of high rises rising here.

“For contractors, there’s so much money to be made in this market right now you find contractors taking on more projects than they don’t have the manpower they’re stretched too thin, or they take on projects they’re not qualified to do,” said Joe Watson, Partner with Waller Law.

Watson recently settled a major construction case with one of downtown Nashville’s oldest condo high-rises, with the owners of the Nashville condo building arguing underground blasting caused water and concrete damage and that rock debris was accumulating in the parking garage.

Mitchell’s case involves water too, but there’s a different issue; water intrusion leading to mold intrusion.

“It’s a broad problem that has, unfortunately, been allowed to slide, in part, because the people getting sick as result of mold and infectious disease problems weren’t aware it was the mold causing it,” Mitchell said.

The solution here? Know your rights and know that you also have a responsibility to say something if you see that something’s off.

“If you’re an apartment renter and you’re thinking about moving into a building, you absolutely have a right to ask for what are your policies and procedures for proactive and preventative maintenance on this building,” Mitchell said.

On the flip side, Joe Watson says as an owner, HOA, or developer, it is so important to hire qualified contractors to avoid issues down the road.

“We are absolutely seeing more claims, disputes and litigation with payment disputes and delay claims,” Watson said. “You’ve got owners that are saying, ‘Hey, you said you’d build my house for $350,000; I’m expecting it built for $350,000,’ on the other side the contractor says, I can’t.”

The bottom line is to make sure you’re covered. Get a contract, know who you’re working with and never be afraid to ask questions.

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