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Radon dispute pits Florida condo owners, homeowners association

Condominium owners in Venice, Florida, are at a loss over what to do now that their tenants have discovered radon in the unit and the homeowners association has thrown a wrench into the situation.

A husband and wife rent the condo. And the woman, who has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, decided to have her home tested for radon because she heard that it could contribute to the disease.

When she saw the results, her suspicions were concerned. Her home had nearly five times the normal amount.

Radon is a gas that can't be smelled, seen or tasted, so the renters didn't know they had been breathing it in.

They told their landlords of the findings, who in turn sought the assistance of the homeowners association. The landlord suggested the association test all the units in the building.

That suggestion wasn't taken. There isn't a Florida law that requires homeowners to test for it, and the homeowners association advised each condo owner to test on their own.

The landlords were willing to pay to eradicate the radon in their unit, but the homeowners association then presented them with a form that said if they had it done, they would be held responsible if other units in the building were found to have radon.

The landlord said the cost was $3,100 for his unit but he wasn't willing to be responsible for all the units.

In the meantime, the tenants have moved out while the stalemate plays out between the association and the property owner.

Any property owner who is unsure of the duties of the condominium association should dig into their filing cabinets and find the documents they received when they bought the property that outline the covenants of the association. A Florida attorney who is well-versed in property law can review those to find out with whom responsibility lies.

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