G.S. from Middlesex County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
My condo association provided external repairs to the brickwork and balcony throughout my condo 16 months ago. Shortly after the repairs, chunks of concrete fell onto my 3rd floor balcony from the unit above. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Other balconies have experienced similar problems. The association has promised that the mason would be back in the fall of 2011, then when winter set they said spring, then summer and now it is 1 year later and no repairs have been made. Their response is that the mason used has fallen ill and they are awaiting his recovery and cannot give a date for repair. What can I do?
Mister Condo replies:
G.S., I am thankful that no one has been injured during this masonry debacle. It seems to me that your Board could use some guidance and you and your fellow unit owners could use some relief. No one should have to live with the possibility of injury from falling building debris. First and foremost, your Board would be well advised to hire another contractor to complete the repairs and secure resident safety. I am actually a little surprised that the association’s insurance underwriter hasn’t been alerted about this falling debris. To limit their liability and the risk to human life, they would most certainly demand the repairs be made post haste.
As for the Board’s decision to wait until the contractor has recovered from an illness, I couldn’t disagree more. While it is admirable to offer the contractor the opportunity to complete the job, it is not the Board’s place to allow risk to unit owners from falling debris. The correct business decision is to secure the buildings, complete the repair, and sue the contractor for defect of contract. Even in illness, this contractor has a business duty to the association to complete this repair timely and safely. It sounds like neither has been done. I assume the Board hired a contractor who is licensed and insured for the work performed. This is exactly what insurance is used for. It insures the work done by the masonry contractor. Lawsuits can take time and resources to pursue but it is the logical conclusion to this transaction. Feel free to share this friendly answer with members of your Board. Good luck!