Tenants in new living space

What is a Private Nuisance and How Can it Impact Condo Living?

Owning your own home comes with many perks. Having your own space allows you to partake in activities that you desire and to use your property as you wish. However, the way in which you are allowed to enjoy your property isn’t without limitation. The way in which you use your property may not interfere with the legal right of someone else to use and enjoy their property. When it does, this is considered a private nuisance. 

What is a Private Nuisance?

A private nuisance is the use of one’s property in a way that interferes with the legal right of another to use and enjoy their property. Under Rhode Island state law, a private nuisance occurs when someone unreasonably uses their property in a manner that materially interferes with their neighbor’s use of his property or his physical comfort. Put simply, a nuisance is an action that damages another’s use and enjoyment of their property. The action itself may be perfectly legal. 

In order to determine whether something classifies as a nuisance, it must be asked whether or not the action in question was reasonable. This is a question of fact that must be proven by the side bringing the complaint. Often the answer to a private nuisance is equitable relief, which is essentially an order that prohibits the person from engaging in the activity that was found offensive. 

Community Living

Private nuisances are often a big concern when it comes to community living, such as living in a condominium. When neighbors share common property and live so close to one another, loud noises and pungent odors can prove to be a nuisance. If a condo unit owner is engaging in a noise or odor that interferes with his or her condo unit neighbor’s ability to enjoy his or her unit, and he or she brings an action for nuisance, the sound or smell may be ordered to cease. 

Condo Association Rules Reign Supreme

Condo unit owners are bound by the rules and regulations of the condo association. These rules generally include a clause about nuisances; unit owners may not engage in activities that deprive other unit members of their own enjoyment of their property. It is therefore the responsibility of the board to determine (on behalf of the association) whether or not the behavior is enough to constitute a nuisance. Under the Rhode Island Condominium Act, the person accused of engaging in disturbing behavior must be provided notice and opportunity for a hearing before receiving any fines. 

What one board may consider being a nuisance per their association’s rules, may not be the same for another board. That’s why it’s in the best interest of the board to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Rhode Island condominium attorney to determine what to do next and to avoid unnecessary litigation. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Condominium Law Issues

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Condominium Law attorneys understand Rhode Island condo law and will work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. If you believe that a condo unit owner has committed a nuisance, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

sending photo to the home insurance

Here’s How Taking Good Pictures Can Help Your Claim

You may have heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words. But what you may not know is that a picture can also influence thousands of dollars. Pictures can often make or break a case as they often provide evidence that could not otherwise be equaled through mere words. When a policyholder is looking to recover from damage, pictures of the damage itself are invaluable. This holds true whether the claim is for flooding, fire loss, or any other types of claims. 

What Should You Capture?

Luckily for you, most people nowadays have smartphones with cameras. Therefore, it is much easier to get your hands on a camera than it has ever been before. It’s good to take pictures of your property prior to anything bad happening. Therefore, when you experience a loss, you can take “after photos.” As a general rule, you may want to take pictures of your property – both inside and outside – on a quarterly basis. You may also wish to have a roofer or someone else qualified, take photos of the condition of your roof when they are on your property. This should include broad pictures of the roof as well as close-up pictures of it. Usually, about twenty to twenty-five pictures is a good amount when it comes to documenting different parts of your property. Other property that it is a good idea to capture images of includes:

  • Garage doors
  • Window screens
  • Skylights
  • Awnings
  • Parapet walls

Capture pictures of interior water spots or stains on your walls and ceilings as well as any stains located near your hot water heaters or sprinklers. You will also want to keep an eye on your attic and take pictures of it – especially if your water heater is located there. 

Using Your Photos to Combat Other Evidence

Since insurance companies often have their own sets of pictures, they can take them in such a way as to try to omit certain important factors, therefore hurting your claim. That’s why having your own set of images is so important. You will want to keep them in a saved folder on your cloud so that you will have them – even if your phone or laptop goes missing. Also, be sure to take photos after repair, so that if your property becomes damaged again, it can’t be claimed that the damage is merely a continuance of pre-existing damage. You will be able to show that the prior damage had been repaired. 

Videos can also serve as good evidence in the event of a loss. Just be sure to include your property in the video to show that it is the location you are claiming and try to keep the clip to under thirty seconds. Also, make sure that your video is time-stamped. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with their Fire Damage Claims

By working with an insurance attorney, he or she can help to walk you through each step of the process. Even if your claim has already been denied, a knowledgeable and qualified attorney can help.

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Property Insurance lawyers work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. We have deep experience working with insurance companies and understand how to deal with them. If you are planning on filing a fire damage claim, or if you have already filed your claim and been denied, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

Book with title Landlord-Tenant Law and a gavel.

What to Know About Condominium Association Audits in RI

When you are a condominium unit owner, you expect the condominium association or its board members to take care of the finances surrounding your community; things such as snow removal, garbage collection, utilities, and landscaping. You should know how much money of yours goes to what every month. In order to ensure that the association is “healthy,” the condominium association will be audited each year by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). But what if you get the feeling that your hard-earned money is being used improperly by the association? Can you request your own audit?

Is There a Difference Between an Audit and a Review?

Although both audits and reviews are conducted by CPAs, they still differ. A review is a simple overview of the association’s finances and is conducted to ensure that finances are being managed properly. But while this looks at the financial records and documents of the association, it does not get into the nitty-gritty of the association’s financial state. Since they are much simpler in nature, reviews tend to be less expensive. 

Alternatively, condominium audits are much more detailed in nature and are conducted for the purpose of assessing the financial records, creditors, and debtors of the association to ensure that the numbers line up properly. An audit looks much more intricately at the legal compliance, financial forecasts, and financial records of the association. 

Things to Know Before Requesting an Audit

Before you request an audit, it’s best to inquire as to whether your condo association is compliant with the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) certification process since this would mean it would be required to carry fidelity insurance. Fidelity insurance can help protect against fraud and theft and for the liability of board officers should there be gross mismanagement and subsequent financial loss. That’s why checking to see if the association is FHA certified is a good idea prior to purchasing your unit. 

If your association is, in fact, certified by the FHA but you are still wondering what is going on with the finances, there are a couple more steps that you can take before requesting an audit. 

  1. You can ask your board to provide you with all relevant financial information so that you can do your own review; and/or
  2. You can ask permission for your accountant to perform a Level 2 or Level 3 audit depending on the type of audit that the board currently uses. Since these types of audits can be very expensive, they are generally only used when there is reasonable suspicion of fraud.

It’s also important to note that under state law, associations must keep their financial records and must make them reasonably available to be examined by unit owners or their agents upon request. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Condominium Law Issues

If you have reviewed your board’s finances but still wish to request an official audit, it’s imperative that you understand what you are entitled to. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Condominium Law attorneys understand Rhode Island condo law and will work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. If you suspect that there is theft or fraud going on within your condominium association and its board, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

Client taking keys to new home

What is a Condominium Lien in Rhode Island?

When you reside in a condominium, you own your own space, but the common areas must be kept up by someone. Someone must be responsible for snow removal, electricity, and the like. That’s one of the main reasons for a condominium association. A condominium association collects fees from the unit owners in order to fund its annual budget. But what happens when a unit owner fails to pay his or her fees in a timely manner?

A “Super Priority Lien”

In Rhode Island, the condominium association will have a lien on a unit for fines imposed against its owner once it has been due. Condominiums also have what is often referred to as a “super priority lien.” Under the Rhode Island Condominium Act, all unit owners share a contractual and statutory obligation to pay these common fees in a timely manner. Should a unit owner fail to do so, he or she can be divested of their title to the unit and the association will have an automatic lien against the unit. 

This condominium lien is like a mortgage in how it is enforced: by non-judicial foreclosure. Once 60 or 90 days have passed since the fees were owed, the association will send the unit owner a notice of delinquency. Unless the association and the unit owner can come to an agreement for payment or he or she pays the overdue fees, the title of the unit is ordered and reviewed with a notice sent to the owner of the initial mortgage of the unit. 

The Initial Mortgagee is Involved

It’s important to note that condominium liens in Rhode Island are given priority status – even before the initial mortgage concerning six months of assessments, $2,500 in attorney’s fees, and $5,000 in collection fees. In such a situation, the initial mortgage holder will often pay the condo board the overdue fees. 

If the fees are still not paid, the association can then move to close on the lien and will send another notice to the owner of the unit and the first mortgagee. The association then has the right to sell the unit at a public auction. After the auction is held, the board is required to send a notice to the first mortgagee within seven days. It must include the bid amount and the identity of the bidder. Then the mortgagee has up to 30 days to pay the association in order to redeem the unit. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with their Condominium Concerns

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Condominium Law attorneys work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. We have deep experience working on issues concerning condos and understand how to deal with them. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

Water pipe bursting

Types of Water Damage in Rhode Island

There are a lot of things that can, unfortunately, cause water damage to your property. This can include everything from a toilet that overflows to a leak in your roof, or even widespread flooding. But regardless of the cause of your water damage, understanding what to do when it happens is most important. 

If left untreated, not only can water damage continue to cause further damage, but it can also cause serious threats to your health. You’ll know if the water damage in question is putting you at immediate risk depending upon the type of water damage, whether the water is touching anything electrical, and whether you notice any signs of mold. There are three types of water damage: 1) clean; 2) grey; and 3) black.

Category 1: Clean Water Damage

Category 1, clean water damage, is the least serious of the three types of water damage. Clean water damage includes things such as broken water supply lines or pipes, appliance issues, or sinks or bathtubs that have overflowed. This type of water damage is referred to as “clean,” because it is free from toxins and sewage. Clean water damage can usually be handled by drying out damaged items and does not generally pose side effects for the owner of the property in the future. 

Category 2: Grey Water Damage

Category 2, grey water damage, is a bit more severe. Grey water comes from things such as sump pump backups, washing machines, and toilets. Although direct contact with this type of water may not be immediately harmful, it’s vital that you remove and disinfect any affected items from the home. This is because the nature of this type of water can prove harmful in the future. 

Category 3: Black Water Damage

Category 3, black water damage, is the most serious type of water damage and it requires that you take immediate action to minimize the chances of becoming seriously harmed by it. Black water includes seater, river water, ground water, rising flood waters, and sewage. Any items that have been impacted by black water damage must be immediately removed from the property, dried, and substantially disinfected. 

It’s important to understand what is – and is not – covered under your property insurance coverage. The following is most likely not covered under your plan:

1. Flood Damage

Without specific flood insurance, standard policies will not cover any damage due to a flood.

2. Mold Damage

Mold often occurs when you neglect to clean up water damage properly. When this is the case, damage caused by mold will not be covered under your plan. 

3. Gradual Water Damage

Gradual water damage is damage that occurs slowly over time, such as paint chipping off of the wall. 

If you see signs of water damage within your property it’s imperative that you report it to your insurance company right away. Many insurance companies will often use any delay in reporting damage as a reason for denying your claim. 

Be sure to take photos and video of any damage before taking steps to fix the problem. Ensure that you maintain any receipts from repairs or items to keep a record of all related expenses.

Your insurance company will send out an adjuster to look at your property and survey the damage. He or she will also assess whether your claim should be granted and if so, you will receive compensation. If your claim is denied, remember that you have the ability to appeal the decision. A qualified Rhode Island water damage attorney can help you to file a lawsuit and prove your case – whether the first or second time around. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with their Water Damage Claims

When you are already stressed and dealing with paying to fix damage in your home caused by water, the last thing that you want to have to worry about is a damage claim denial. That’s where a qualified property damage attorney, specializing in water damage, can help. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Property Insurance lawyers work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. We have deep experience working with insurance companies and understand how to deal with them. If you are planning on filing a water damage claim, or if you have already filed your claim and been denied, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

home insurance

6 Common Reasons Why Your Property Insurance Claim Was Denied

When a disaster, such as a flood or a fire, causes damage to your home or business, it can be utterly devastating. But what can be even more devastating is learning that your claim has been denied. Here are 6 common reasons as to why your property insurance claim has been denied, and what you can do to help prevent this from happening. 

1. You didn’t file your claim within the allotted amount of time. 

In your insurance policy, you will be required to notify your insurance company promptly concerning any loss. You will also be required to file and document your claim within a certain given period of time. If you fail to do so, you may forfeit your ability to bring your claim – and thus your claim may be denied. 

2. You failed to pay your premiums on time. 

If you expect your insurance company to do what you want it to do, you must also do what is expected of you in return. This includes paying your premium payments on time. If you fail to do so, your claim may be denied. 

3. Your claim seems fishy – or at least questionable. 

Insurance companies utilize their own adjusters in order to investigate your claim after the fact. But if they find anything that seems remotely suspicious concerning your original application for coverage, or for your specific claim, they may choose to deny it. 

4. You have failed to adequately document the damage. 

After a disaster occurs that causes damage to your property, you (as the property owner) are required to prove your claim to the insurance company – they will not work to prove it for you. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that you obtain enough documentation of the damage. This may include doing things such as taking a large amount of pictures. 

5. The very cause of your damages is excluded from what your policy protects.

No one insurance policy covers everything; every property insurance policy has its own set of exclusions for what is not covered. If the cause of your damages is not covered under your policy, your claim will be denied. 

6. You failed to take adequate measures to reduce further damage after the damage has occurred. 

Once you experience property loss, it is your job as the policyholder to prevent further loss when possible. This means that you are required to take any reasonable measures to reduce the extent of your loss. If you fail to do so, your claim can be denied. 

Tips for Preventing Your Claim from Being Denied

While no one thing is sure to guarantee that your claim won’t be denied, there are certain things that you can do that boost your odds of receiving a payout:

  • Notify your insurance company of the losses you’ve incurred as soon as possible;
  • Always pay your premiums on time;
  • Understand your policy coverage (and purchase coverage that is reasonable);
  • Take all reasonable steps to mitigate damages after you’ve incurred a loss of property; and
  • Take photos and document all damages along with a detailed itemized claim.  

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with their Fire Damage Claims

Property damage claims can be very overwhelming – especially when you’re not familiar with exactly how they work. That’s why consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced property insurance attorney can help. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Property Insurance lawyers work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. We have deep experience working with insurance companies and understand how to deal with them. If you have been illegally contacted by an adjuster, restoration company, or contractor during the first 24-hours after you regain control of your property, if you are planning on filing a fire damage claim, or if you have already filed your claim and been denied, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

fire damage with circuit breaker

Rhode Island Law Prohibits Solicitation of Fire Damage Victims at Scene of Fire

When you have been the victim of fire damage, it is absolutely devastating. At a time when you are processing what has transpired and dealing with the loss, you should not have to be bombarded by companies and adjusters trying to win your business. That’s why Rhode Island has a law to protect fire victims from being solicited by contractors, insurance adjusters, and restoration companies at the scene of the fire. This also prevents them from inspecting the scene or even merely showing up to the scene. 

This can be seen under R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-28.2-11(c):

“The state fire marshal, and/or any of the deputy state fire marshals or assistant state fire marshals, and/or municipal officials, including without limitation police, fire and building officials, shall prohibit any and all insurance adjusters, contractors and restoration companies from engaging in any solicitation or inspection or any physical presence on the premises under investigation until twenty-four (24) hours after either the municipal fire department and/or the state fire marshal, deputy state fire marshal or assistant state fire marshal releases control of the premises back to its legal owner(s) or occupant(s) unless the insurance adjuster, contractor or restoration company is accompanied by and acting with the premises’ legal owner.”

As stated, this law preventing these individuals from engaging in this behavior covers the first 24 hours after fire authorities release control back to the occupants or owners of the property. However, if the legal owner of the property contacts such individuals and physically accompanies them on-site of the property, they are then permitted to be there. In other words, you won’t be bombarded by anyone for the first 24-hours after you have access to your property – unless you choose to call them sooner. 

Should an insurance adjuster, registration company, or contractor violate this law, they will be subject to a fine of $1,000 for each violation. In certain instances, they could even have their professional registration or license revoked. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with their Fire Damage Claims

When you are already concerned with physical and emotional healing for you and your loved ones, the last thing you feel like dealing with is a fire damage claim denial. That’s where a qualified fire damage attorney can help. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Property Insurance lawyers work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. We have deep experience working with insurance companies and understand how to deal with them. If you have been illegally contacted by an adjuster, restoration company, or contractor during the first 24-hours after you regain control of your property, if you are planning on filing a fire damage claim, or if have already filed your claim and been denied, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

Insurance attorney speaking with clients

Protecting Your Rights from Bad Faith Property Insurance Companies in Rhode Island

When you purchase homeowners or property insurance, you do so with the expectation that you will be protected in the event that you experience a loss. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t always the case. Since insurance companies are businesses like any other, the less money they lose, the more profit they make. For this reason, many insurance companies treat their own clients as their adversaries after they have filed a claim. But while claims adjusters are required to ensure that there are no lasting fraudulent claims, many claims are treated as if they are fraudulent from the get-go. 

When you are already dealing with a disheartening loss, it can be difficult to know how to proceed with an insurance company that initially denies their claim. As a result of the desperation many insurance clients feel, many insurance companies will take advantage of their clients by offering them a very low offer or by denying their claim altogether. At best this practice is unethical, while at worst it may be illegal. That’s why it’s so important that people understand what they are entitled to when it comes to property loss and damage. If you find that your insurance company is acting in a manner that is illegal and goes against your contract with it, you may have a bad faith insurance claim

A Fiduciary Duty

Insurance companies have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of their clients. This means that they have a duty to look at each claim and consider whether it qualifies for a settlement and if so, what a reasonable settlement would look like. Therefore, if an insurance company denies a claim without a legitimate reason, or fails to carry out the duties required of it, it can be sued by its clients for acting in bad faith. Clients who are successful in their claim of bad faith may not only be entitled to their originally deserved settlement, but also to punitive damages and attorney’s fees. 

By working with a qualified Rhode Island insurance attorney, the likelihood of your insurance company acting in bad faith to your claim goes down tremendously. Having legal counsel often ensures that you are treated in a more fair manner than if you file a claim on your own. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps to Protect Those in Rhode Island from their Insurance Companies Acting in Bad Faith 

When you are dealing with the loss of your property, it can be difficult to act without strong emotion. You may want the money to fix your property immediately, but in an effort to obtain it you may not receive that which you are truly entitled to. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Property Insurance lawyers work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. We have deep experience working with insurance companies and understand how to deal with them. If you are planning on filing an insurance claim or if you’ve already filed your claim and been denied, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

water damage

Who Is Responsible for Water Damage in a Rental?

Water damage can cause a lot of serious issues and cost a lot of money. So what happens if you experience water damage in a rental property? Is it the responsibility of the landlord or the tenant? Who should pay for it?

Identifying Water Damage

First thing’s first: you need to identify the water damage first. While some water damage is obvious, other signs of it are very subtle. However, there are common signs of water damage, such as:

  1. Bubbles, warps, cracks, and other changes in surfaces
  2. Strange new smells, often “moldy” smells (water damage can cause mold)
  3. Discolored areas on ceilings or walls
  4. Colder temperatures (damp walls make heating systems less effective)

Oftentimes, water damage occurs slowly and can be difficult to notice without keeping a close eye. 

Landlords

Landlords are responsible for providing tenants with a living space that is “habitable.” This means that they are responsible for ensuring that their property is a safe place for their tenant to reside. That’s why they are responsible for water damage when it is the result of improper maintenance subject to RIGL 34-18. 

Tenant

Tenants, on the other hand, are responsible for any acts of negligence that they commit. Therefore, if a tenant forgets that they left the bathtub water running and it creates a flood, they could be held responsible for the damage.

Both Landlords and Tenants Have a Responsibility to Limit Damages

Regardless of who is liable for the damage, both landlords and tenants have the responsibility for not making the damage any worse than it has to be. In other words, if a landlord fails to fix a pipe that should have been maintained and it creates water damage, the tenant must still do what he or she can to minimize the extent of the damage (e.g. remove personal items that are easily destroyed from the room). Alternately, if the tenant has been negligent and caused water damage and he or she notifies the landlord, the landlord must still act within a reasonable amount of time. 

It’s important to make sure that your rental contract has clearly defined details as to what is to happen in the event of water damage. Also, sometimes having renter’s insurance can help cover the cost of water damage.

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with their Property Insurance Claims

Filing a property insurance claim can be extremely confusing – and extremely frustrating. The last thing you want is to have your claim denied or delayed because of something that you did incorrectly. That’s why it’s so important to know how to file your claim from the beginning. An attorney can help to ensure that you properly file your property insurance claim.

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Property Damage lawyers work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. We have experience with property insurance companies and claims and know what insurance companies are looking for. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!

condominium

What Is the Fiduciary Duty of a Condo Board?

It’s a big deal to be elected to the board of a condo, which generally comes with a lot of power and responsibility. Members of a condo board have what is called a “fiduciary duty.” This means that they are responsible for making decisions on behalf of their community that are in their best interests. If someone fails to uphold their fiduciary duty, it can result in serious legal consequences. 

A Special Relationship

Fiduciary duties stem from special relationships between people, in this case, condo board members and unit owners. Other relationships that require fiduciary duties include clergyman/congregant, lawyer/client, broker/client, and so on.

A fiduciary duty requires that someone must act in more than just his or her own self-interest, but rather higher responsibilities. However, in the situation of a condo board member, they are often also unit owners. But it’s important to differentiate that they must be thinking about what’s best for the whole condo association and not just for themselves as a unit owner. 

The fiduciary duties of a condo board member include the duty to maintain, repair, and restore common areas of the condominium complex.

A Breach of One’s Fiduciary Duty

While there are a variety of ways in which a condo board member can breach his or her fiduciary duty, these abuses of power generally fall into one of three categories: 1) self-dealing; 2) exercising personal vendettas; or 3) selective enforcement.

1. Self-dealing

Self-dealing occurs when someone obtains a personal advantage due to their position even though the opportunity should have been available to everyone.

2. Exercising of Personal Vendettas

One exercises a personal vendetta when they treat someone unfairly due to a personal issue that they have with that person and not for any other legitimate reason. 

3. Selective Enforcement

The third type of abuse of power is when someone plays favorites or dislikes someone and only enforces the rules or regulations with some people but not everyone.

Abuses of Power

If a condo board member is found to have breached his or her fiduciary duty, the consequences that they will face are dependent upon the specific facts and circumstances of the breach. However, depending on what they have done, they may even be charged with a crime (e.g. stealing money)

If you believe that a member of the condo board has breached his or her fiduciary duty, it’s important that you look over the specific bylaws of your condo in order to determine your options. You may wish to consult with a condominium attorney in Rhode Island who can advise you of your options. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Condominium Issues

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Condominium lawyers work strategically to help our clients get what they deserve. We have experience with condominium boards and claims and know what it takes to hold board members accountable. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!