Category Archives: Damage

Careless Condo Owner Ruining Neighboring Unit

H.H. from Los Angeles writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in Los Angeles and the unit above me has had water leaking into my unit – this will make the 4th time. I had to get my insurance company involved last time and they had to replace my ceiling and shower. 2 days ago, water was pouring into my newly renovated kitchen. She claims she spilled a pitcher of water. I have pics and video. Prior to the last two incidences, I had to replace my bathroom ceiling because she was missing the rubber ring in her tub. Prior to that I had water running down my walls from a seal issue she had in her shower. Should I get an attorney? What can I do? I’ve been living in construction for the last year. I’m losing my mind!

Mister Condo replies:

H.H., I am sorry for your neighbor problems. Thankfully, you have insurance to assist with the repairs but there is no way to protect your peace of mind. You certainly could hire an attorney but to what avail? Your upstairs neighbor is just behaving in an un-neighborly manner. Her careless ways are making your condo life uncomfortable and downright miserable. You can write to your Board and ask that they intervene on your behalf but it doesn’t sound as though any rules or laws have been broken. This is just a case of a careless unit owner causing grief for fellow unit owners, in this case, you. Speak with an attorney if you think you have a case of some sort against ether the neighbor or the association. Other than that, keep your fingers crossed that this neighbor decides to start acting like a responsible adult and realizing that her careless action have real consequences to those around her. Good luck!

Condo Unit Owner Removes Load Bearing Wall; Disaster Ensues

N.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have a condo on the fourth floor. An owner of a unit below moved a load bearing wall and now I have cracks on my walls and my floor sags. Who’s responsible; the owner that did the work or the association?

Mister Condo replies:

N.G., Yikes! I always shake my head in disbelief when I hear these stories. A unit owner took it upon themselves to move a load bearing wall and caused great damage. You are lucky that the building didn’t collapse. I hope that you can have your unit repaired to the way it was before this unit owner caused all this problem. The unit owner who modified the building is at fault here and should repair the wall and your unit and any other damage to neighboring units. If the association granted permission for the unit owner to do the work (unlikely) they may bear some of the burden to repair units and/or common areas. There is a reason for architectural compliance and approval before unit owners take on the kind of project your neighbor did. Your example is a worst-case scenario fo what can happen when they don’t do it right. Good luck!

Property Manager Fails to Solve Condo Owners Water Leak

E.W. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Not sure if you can help me since I am in Florida but I’ll give it a try. I’ve been having difficulties finding any free advice and do not wish to contact an attorney at this point. A week ago, I noticed I have a leak in ceiling of my condo that has worked its way down into the wall pooling next to a bank of light switches. The condo property manager came over right away when I notified them of the leak. He took some pictures and that was it. I followed up today asking for an update and he basically stone-walled me stating that there was nothing he could do until the association finds a roofing contractor and he could not offer a time when one would be selected. I asked him to send me an email today explaining the situation. Unfortunately, we are in hurricane season now with one on the way. I’ve been documenting my interactions with dates, photos and comments but in the end, it really doesn’t solve my problem. Do you have any recommendations?

Mister Condo replies:

E.W., I am sorry for your unfortunate problems and your unfortunate timing. It would appear that while your condo manager was efficient in answering your complaint of a water leak, there is no mechanism to easily correct the leak. You do need to follow up with both the Property Manager and the Board as this is their problem, too, and they need to address the problem even if hurricane season is soon to follow. You don’t need to hire an attorney at this point but you do need to have your problem addressed. Water leaks near electrical switches are no laughing matter. Someone could get electrocuted or a fire could ensue. The Property Manager may be your first line but don’t rule out the Board’s responsibility to address the issue. Squeaky wheel tends to get the grease so make some squeaks in the right direction and see if you can’t get this issue addressed without having to hire an attorney. My guess is you can. All the best!

Unit Owner Questions Condo Board’s Mandated Water Heater Replacement

G.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The Condo Association Board wants to mandate having the Hot Water Heaters updated every 10 years. Is this common practice? We are a small Owners Association, 10 Buildings with 4 condos in a building. Each building has a basement, and each condo has its own Hot Water Heater in the common basement room, along with the 4 individual Hot Air GAS Furnace. Some hot water heaters have already been replaced, as the condos are 14 years old. Your comments please.

Mister Condo replies:

G.M., in my experience, it is quite common for associations to have maintenance standards in place for any appliances, water hoses, etc. which requires unit owners to replace these appliances within “X” amount of years, where “X” is the number of years of the manufacturer’s usable life expectancy of the product or when the association’s insurer will no longer cover any damage caused by the appliance after it exceeds its usable life. For instance, if you had a twenty-year-old hot water heater that failed and flooded your neighbor’s unit, the association would not be able to process a claim because the appliance that failed had not been replaced within the 10 years as required by your association’s maintenance standard. In other words, by not enforcing maintenance standards, the association puts itself at risk of denied insurance claims. That could be far more expensive than the cost of updating appliances, not to mention the reduced potential for damage to all units because of such a program. Hope that explanation helps. All the best!

Condo Owner Getting Water Damage from Outside of Unit

E.A. from Texas writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have a water problem that is coming from inside the wall. The condo association, not the management company, will send someone out to fix it. I notified the management company maintenance man and he came out and tore out the wall. Another service person came out at the request of the president of the association’s request the next day and did not know what was causing the problem. My inside insurance company had a master plumber come out two days later and identify the likely source of the problem. He also wanted to test the water line pressure but the water lines are to 4 or 6 units so could not do it on the inside insurance person’s “say so” in case damage was done to other units. I have paid a large assessment, the first in 10 years this year, and paid all my dues on time. They are even ahead by one-two months. What gives?

Mister Condo replies:

E.A., keep paying those dues and assessments on time. Unfortunately, being a timely dues and assessments payer isn’t going to help this problem. You have done all of the right things so far and you may be on the path to resolution. The problem is clearly not your fault nor in your unit. That means the issue is either coming from a neighboring unit or from common water lines owned by the association. Either way, you need a repair and a solution pronto. Now that your plumber has identified the likely culprit, you need to pressure the Board and/or the management company to come and address the problem and provide a solution. These things can be frustrating because they take time, especially if access to neighboring units is involved in the repair. Ask for a plan and keep being a thorn in the side of anyone who will listen. In my experience, this type of problem is generally resolved quickly but being a squeaky wheel might just help you get some grease quicker. Good luck!

Condo Association Door Threshold Replacement Creates Unit Owner Leak

A.M. from Philadelphia writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The condo association had a project to repair balcony supports and to do water-proofing around balcony doors. My doors opened and closed and had no evidence of leaking prior to the condo’s project (you know where this is going!) After the project, my condo had a leak in door frame and one of the doors no longer opens. The condo responded by saying, “The existing doors have to be removed in order for the contractor to install their balcony waterproofing membrane. Once the doors were removed by the contractor, most if not all of the door threshold frames collapse due to long term water rot. The Association Engineering Firm directed the contractor to reinstall the doors ‘as is’ condition, but most of the doors will not operate due to the water rot. Since the doors are the responsibility of the owners (part of the unit) the Owners will have to replace the doors. The Building mock-up contains composite trim around the doors that is removable and provides easy door replacement without damaging the new stucco sealants and coating.” 

How is it possible that the condo association has no responsibility? I don’t dispute that the doors are part of the unit, but how do I know if the door threshold frames are part of the doors or part of the common elements? Of course, the lion-share of the cost is not these threshold frames themselves, but the labor to remove and reinstall!

Mister Condo replies:

A.M., I am sorry for your predicament. You had doors that were working perfectly well and now they aren’t and all because the association was doing preventative maintenance. Yes, you are now out of pocket the additional money for the labor to repair the door seal. While that is unfortunate, you should be thankful that the association is handling the bigger project here, which is the maintenance of the commonly owned threshold frames. This may or may not be outlined in your governance documents but it would appear that the Board is most certainly under the impression that it is their duty to maintain the threshold frames. As the Board has stated, and I would agree, they returned to doors to “as is” condition, which is their prerogative. I might suggest that you ask them if there is an option for you to offer to pay the contractor to reseal your doors the next time they undertake such a project. My guess is that would be quite some time in the future. Good luck!

Condo Board Refuses to Address Major Safety Concern of Unit Owner

J.J. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a townhouse complex of 46 units. There are 7 board members who seem to play favorites and pick and choose who they will and will not respond to. There are 2 basements attached to owner units, where the association actually owns half of the basement and the exterior entrance to each. One of these basements is next to mine, and the cement stairs leading down to it have been collapsing for years with only talks of repairs. Now, because of the poor stability of the cement, the metal railing is no longer stable either. It’s come apart and very wobbly. I have a small child as does the renter that lived in the unit this is attached to. I wrote an email with my concerns asking that the railing be addressed. If a child were to lean on that railing they could absolutely fall in and the drop is high enough I fear it could be fatal. As usual I’ve not gotten any acknowledgement at all that my email was even received. What would be my next step in getting them to address something so dangerous?

Mister Condo replies:

J.J., I am sorry that your Board has allowed this common asset to fall into such disrepair that a child fatality could occur if the element fails. I would say that an email isn’t getting the job done. You mentioned 7 Board Members but no Property Manager. If you have a Property Manager, you should bring it to their attention, if not you need to address the Board in another way that they cannot ignore. Pictures and documentation should do the trick, presented in a letter to the Board (not an email). Send a copy to the local Building Inspector as well and cc: the Board that you have done so. You should also consider attending the next Board meeting (that is your right). Address this concern face to face with the Board. In other words, be a squeaky wheel! If they still don’t respond, you have two choices. Run for the Board yourself or elect better leaders that will address the issue. The other choice is to just accept that the Board is a group of self-serving people who aren’t going to address your issues until there is an injury and a lawsuit. That would be truly unfortunate. Good luck!

Sinking Floor Troubles Condo Owner

D.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

If I hire a structure engineer to do a report and it is in fact the association to cover damage of sinking floor will the association have to pay me back for the cost of the report?

Mister Condo replies:

D.G., I am sorry you find yourself with a sinking floor. I assume you have asked the association to make the repair and they are claiming that it is not their responsibility so you now find yourself needing to take further action to get rid of the sinking floor. If you expect the association to pay for anything – the cost of the report, the damage caused, and, ultimately, the actual repair, you will very likely need to sue the association. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice here but my friendly advice would be for you to speak with a competent local attorney and see what your rights are. Since the association has already refused to make the repair and you will likely be suing them, I don’t see why you couldn’t include the cost of the report in your suit. However, if you are unsuccessful in your lawsuit, you might not be able to recover any money, including the cost of the engineering report. Speak with an attorney first and then follow the advice on how to proceed. I sure hope you get your sinking floor repaired one way or another. Good luck! 

Contractor Requires Condo Board Member’s Presence to Assess Unit Owner’s Damage

S.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The management company asked me to contact a contractor that works most jobs in this condominium in order to make an assessment for damages from a water backup. His reply came and stated that he requested from management company to have a board member present during such assessment. I find it very unusual. I do not believe the bylaws allow for such presence. I am tempted to ask the management to provide cases where a board member was requested to be present in a similar case by this contractor. 


What are my rights in this case? Can I refuse a board member be present lacking precedence? Can I ask for another or more than one contractor do the assessment? What is my best recourse to collect for damages. 

I recently learned that a board member, the president of the board had some water damage and the association paid to replace the kitchen. I need to yet verify this information. How can I use this information to benefit my case? 

Mister Condo replies:

S.H., I am sorry for your water damage problems and further that you appear unhappy with the proposed resolution from your association. Short of suing the association, you really don’t have any “rights” in this case. Typically, water damage to a unit interior is handled by the unit owner’s insurance. The insurance company may have a claim against the association if the damage was caused by willful neglect or intentional damage. I can’t imagine why you should have to contact an association contractor or why a Board Member needs to be present, precedence or not. If the Board wishes to hire a contractor to review your damage, they should make contact and hire the contractor. If the contractor requires a Board Member to be present for whatever reason, I don’t see how or why you would prevent them from assessing your damage and proposing a solution. The unsubstantiated allegations you have made about the Board President’s having similar damage and having the association pay for it is an unrelated matter and should not figure into the solution of your problem at all. My advice is for you to contact your own insurance company and see if you can’t get this matter corrected without involvement from the Board. If the damage continues due to willful neglect on the part of the association, you should hire an attorney and sue. All the best!

Hellish HOA Landlord

M.G. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What if an owner lies to the renter and their HOA concerning the number of dogs living in their unit? My owners put on the lease and collected $450 nonrefundable pet fee for 2 dogs. However, unbeknownst to me until I moved in, they put 1 dog on the HOA form. This is because there is a strict “20 pound, 1 dog” limit on the property. However, I was told there was only a strict 20 pound weight limit. (This would not have been a problem, because my 2 Maltese are only 16 pounds together.) I was there less than 24 hours, when I was informed by the groundskeeper that there was a 1 dog/unit policy & that they would give me a hard time about having 2 dogs. I was handed the keys after they’d had approximately 20 people over for one last party. It cost me $450 for a two day deep clean move-in to remove all the filth and sand from everything. Do I as a renter, have any recourse after signing a deceitful lease?

Mister Condo replies:

M.G., I am sorry for your problems. I had to shorten your letter for space but, needless to say, you rented from the landlord from hell. The short answer to your question is “yes”, you have recourse but not without hiring an attorney who will sue this landlord for leasing the unit to you while not fulfilling the contract and flat out lying to you about the pet restrictions. You will need to ask the attorney about the cost of this suit and the likelihood of you getting your money back. Weigh the cost to return benefit before proceeding. You should also check with the state to see if you have protection as a renter that the state will pursue for you against your landlord. It goes without saying that you should not lease with this landlord again and I encourage you to do be as diligent as possible before signing your next lease. Just as a landlord requires references from you, you should require references of a landlord. Good luck!