Category Archives: Legal

Condo Owner Harassed by Board President and Other Unit Owners

D.T. from Litchfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How to bring about a board meeting to discuss being harassed by the president of the condo board and other owners?

Mister Condo replies:

D.T., I am sorry that you feel you are being harassed by unit owners or Board members at your association. Typically, you would simply hire your own attorney and bring a lawsuit or criminal charges against the Board members or unit owners that are harassing you. You don’t have the ability to call a Board meeting but you could attend an upcoming Board meeting and ask that the issue be addressed by the Board. The Board does not have the ability to intervene on legal matters. In other words, if your attorney thinks you have a case for harassment, the matter is settled through legal channels, not community association governance. I hope you have a positive outcome. Good luck!

Movers Damage Condo Elevator; Tenant Being Held Responsible!

H.R. from Fairfield county writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi! I rent a condo in a 3-floor building. I bought furniture and the delivery guys used the elevator and damaged a little bit inside of elevator. The manager made me go after them to pay to fix it, then they paid like $5000 but when somebody came to fix to change the panel on the wall said the panel are part of the whole wall and need change wall recalibrate elevator and the manager call me again asked me $13000 more to fix it or go after them again. All this start happened before my landlord lost the house with the bank so the manager sent him statements of elevator fees before now and somebody told me if he lost the house that problem is of the bank, the bank takes the condo with all debts? But now the board put that amount under my name. I am the tenant. And I told the condo manager that the rules said the landlord is responsible for any damage of the tenants and visitors of the tenants and she told me that rules change because of state but this happened a year ago when she recognized her condo rules. Help me please if she can make pay even the house is bank owner now is in process of foreclosure.

Mister Condo replies:

H.R., I am sorry for your problems and I am sorry I couldn’t get to your question sooner than now. I expect this problem to be resolved by now but, needless to say, since I am not an attorney, I offer no legal advice or remedies in this column. The association is going to go offer you, your landlord, the moving company, even the new bank holding the mortgage in an attempt to collect the money needed to repair the damaged elevator. It is hard to imagine a moving company doing so much damage to an elevator but that is a matter for the courts once the lawsuits get under way. Your question to me is whether or not you can be found responsible. My answer is that you caused the situation that lead to the damage and that may be enough to hold your partially responsible. My advice would be for you to hire an attorney if you are named in a lawsuit so that you can best protect your legal interests. The party with the most responsibility is the moving company, who it looks like has already paid $5000 ($5000!) for the damage they were initially accused of causing. They may be on the hook for the rest of the cost as well but that doesn’t mean you won’t be named if a lawsuit ensues if they refuse to pay. All the best!

Creepy Crawlies at the Condo!

T.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hello. I am a recent condo owner. I purchased a condo in August of last year. Upon getting things set up in the Condo, I would notice unusual bugs. After a while, I thought that this was too unusual. I have never lived anywhere and encountered the bugs that I saw. I also began to see centipedes. How very unusual in places on the carpet!!! I spoke with my neighbor across from me who also coincidently has the same issue. Upon both of are troubles, we have a damp like moisture smell and see creepy unusual bugs in our condo. We both believe it is from the crawlspace below us. I inform the association last week. She explains to me today; that she had it inspected and found nothing wrong with the crawlspace. She informs me the inspection was done about a week ago. I explain to her that I had my home improvement guy take a look at it this past Saturday; and he inform me that it is wet down in the crawlspace and that a pipe circulating from my laundry room connected to my furnace is dripping water. He also explains to me that bugs are down there. Upon all of this, that explains the earwigs, centipedes and even worms I have encountered in my condo. The condo advisor informed me that she will send the guy back down there to inspect but from this point, I do not believe I am going to get the results I am looking for. It is clear to me that the person the condo advisor sent is either not doing his job efficiently or I hate to say it: A Untrue full Person. My neighbor and I want them to fix the problem. Unfortunately, my neighbor has been dealing with this some years and never got anyone at the time to handle the problem. I am afraid that the condo advisor may come back with the same response: NOTHING IS WRONG. What step can I take to resolve this problem? Unfortunately, I am not authorized to get it fixed myself because it is in a crawlspace. I contacted a few contractors who needed authorization from the condo advisor and the problem with that; they just want to use their own people which are not trustworthy to me. Please help.

Mister Condo replies:

T.P., I am sorry for you and your neighbor’s problems. Infestation of any kind are dangerous, disgusting, and obviously, ruin your condo living experience. I think you are on the right track to having the creepy crawler eliminated, even if the condo advisor turns out to be fully incompetent as you and your neighbor are not going to go away without getting the proper results, which is the removal of the insects and, of course, the repair of the water line that allowed for the infestation and mold problem. Keep on top of the property manager to make sure the work gets done. If it isn’t done to your satisfaction, you simply bring suit against the association. You may need an attorney to assist you but it will be well worth it to go back to enjoying your unit. Hopefully, the infestation can be easily remedied once the leaky pipe is repaired. Good luck!

Condo Construction Defect Loan Cannot be Paid Off Early

W.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Initial construction had problems – BOD suit – went on $2.7M legal fees – won but he filed bankruptcy – urgently needed work done – BOD/Association took loan against common property – $10M – doubled condo fee – was to be provision for buyer pre-pay – never done – demand they do it. Questions: 1) Propriety of binding all condo owners to overall loan – do not allow a owner pre- pay – 2) Isn’t this unusual – As expected, large condo fee has deterred sales.

Mister Condo replies:

W.M., I am sorry for all of your new association’s problems. Construction defects can be quite expensive as can the lawsuits to chase down the developer. In this case, it looks like good money was spent chasing bad to try and recover the funds for the association. As is the case, the unit owners are left footing the bill. You would need to check your association’s governing documents to determine what authority the Board had to negotiate a loan on the part of the association and their ability to limit unit owners’ ability to pay off their portion of the loan at their discretion. You asked if it was unusual and my answer is that it is not. Most newer associations have the ability to enter into a loan agreement on behalf of the association. Depending on how they negotiated the loan, they may not have the ability to pay off the loan early, which would limit the unit owners’ ability to pay off their portion early. In my experience, that particular term of the loan would be unusual but not unheard of. You might ask the Board to refinance the loan with a lender that would allow the association to pay back the loan early if unit owners wanted to do so, However, that is easier said than done as a new loan would carry additional closing fees and costs. My advice would be to simply make your increased common fee payments until the loan is retired or ask the Board to look into refinancing the loan in a year or two, especially if loan rates stay low. Good luck!

Current Condo Owner Cited for Previous Owner’s Unapproved Modification

J.F. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’ve owned my condo for nearly three years. I have put it on the market attempting to sell it. After posting it online, the condo company contacted me stating that my in-suite washer/dryer was never approved by the condo board (it was installed by previous owners). I was not aware of this at the time I purchased the condo. They are saying that I need to have an inspection (at my cost) to insure that it is vented correctly and to obtain signed papers stating the same to present to the board. If it is not vented properly (which I think might be the case), they told me that I need to have them removed and pay for any damage it caused to the building. I don’t think this is my responsibility as I was not made aware of any of this when I bought the condo. The condo company claims they have no record of this and no record of any of the previous owners and that it is my responsibility to find the previous owners. I hardly feel that any of this my responsibility. The realtors I bought the condo with have not been helpful in getting information on previous owners. My condo is currently on the market so I want to get this cleaned up as quickly as possible so as not to deter potential buyers. Shall I get a lawyer involved?

Mister Condo replies:

J.F., I am sorry to say that you are likely on the hook for this previous owner’s unapproved washer/dryer installation, regardless of your lack of knowledge. You are the owner of record when the violation was cited and, as such, you are the person who needs to put your unit back in conformance with the association. You may have a case to sue the previous owner for making an unapproved modification to their unit but that is likely going to be a futile effort. I’d rather see you focus your resources on getting your unit in compliance as quickly as possible so that you can make an unencumbered sale to a new owner. I can’t imagine that this process is going to be terribly expensive but, nevertheless, if you think you can track down a previous owner and bring a suit against them for your damages, I wouldn’t discourage you as long as there was enough money at risk to make it worth your while. Otherwise, follow the association’s instructions for putting your unit in compliance, make your sale, and move on. All the best!

Condo Roof Access Required for Maintenance

J.H. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What is the Florida law on condominium unlocked or locked roof access? This is not a roof deck this is a roof access for maintenance issues only.

Mister Condo replies:

J.H., I am neither an attorney nor an expert in Florida Community Association laws so I cannot offer you any legal advice here. You should seek out an attorney to get a legal answer to your question. I will say that if the association needs to access your roof for maintenance issues, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t allow them the access. How else could they perform the needed maintenance? While I don’t know what the laws specifically say about allowing access to a maintenance person onto your roof to perform maintenance that benefits you and other association members, if it were me, I would allow the access. All the best!

Condo Owner Seeks to Install Solar Panels on Association-Owned Roof

D.E. from Maryland writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condo in Talbot County, Maryland I made a request for possible installation of Solar Panel on our rear roof which has the best sun. I told them we were having several Solar companies looking at the project and would keep them informed. The next thing I get is a letter from their Attorney stating they own the roof and denied my request. Is there any law that would support me and we would certainly insure our side, etc.. Your knowledge will be appreciated!

Mister Condo replies:

D.E., as you know I am not an attorney nor am I an expert in Maryland community association law. That being said, I am not aware of any law that would allow you as a condo unit owner to install solar panels (or anything else for that matter) on the association-owned roof. Have you asked the Board if the association as a whole would be interested in install solar panels? It is possible that the association could actually make some money on solar panels (after an initial investment) that would benefit all unit owners. However, as an individual owner, it is highly unlikely that you as an individual unit owner can install your own solar panels. All the best!

Condo Cannot Enforce Rules on Land it Doesn’t Own

J.J. from Michigan writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo association rules state “No Signs of any kind with the exception of one For Sale sign”. With that being said, since all of our roads are county roads and not private roads, can the association stop me from putting political signs in the county road right of way in our subdivision? This is property that is not owned by any association member but the county right of way that is owned by the county road commission. Thank you! I need a quick answer.

Mister Condo replies:

J.J., quite simply the condo can only enforce rules on land that it owns. If you are certain that they don’t own the land you wish to plant signs on then they cannot enforce their rules on that land. However, the land owner of the land in question may have their own rules about what the public can and cannot do on that land. Have you checked with the county road commission? Violating your condo rules can get you a warning or a fine. Violating municipal rules could get you arrested. Better to be safe than sorry. Find out who owns the land and what the rules are for posting political signs before you take any other action.  All the best!

Condo Parking Space Promised but Not Delivered

S.S. from New York City writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a 6-unit new construction condominium in NYC. The builder who I purchased my condo originally told me that even though my unit does not come with parking spot, there was a spot on the side of the building that could be converted to a legal parking spot. Recently I wanted to do this and told the board I would incur all the cost associated with the legalizing that spot.The condominium board of directors voted and denied me a spot. Can I still legally do it without their approval by hiring an attorney or something?

Mister Condo replies:

S.S., I am sorry for your predicament. I can tell you that most questions I get that begin with someone telling you something without you having it in writing don’t end well. The statement that “your unit does not come with a parking spot” is a second telltale sign that this isn’t going to end well for you. You can certainly hire an attorney and see what can be done but, from what you have told me, it doesn’t sound like you will have a case to make the Board release the parking space to you. Perhaps you can rent the space from the association? That might make more sense than spending money on a lawsuit that, to my eye, shows little merit. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. You should certainly speak with an attorney for a legal opinion but if the attorney says you don’t have a case, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Always, always, always get it in writing. Good luck!

Noisy Condo Neighbors Refuse to Be Quiet 

P.C. from Maryland writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am a renter who receives a government subsidy. The neighbor above me owns her condo. She is loud. Stomps over my head drop objects constantly. Every night until 1:00 am. I sent an email to manager of association, who contacted the owner of my unit. I complained to housing i really want to break my lease. The owner refuses. The association manager says she’s going to,send a letter. I have a police report. I have to go to court to process my complaint to have a noise ordinance enforced. I have a disability. Should i call legal aid? Get a case going? This association i heard is not good. They have issues keeping up the property. I cant wait to leave next year. It wont come fast enough!

Mister Condo replies:

P.C., I am sorry for your troubles. It sounds to me as though you are doing just about all you can do. If your upstairs neighbor is an inconsiderate person and refuses to obey the association’s rules on noise, your next steps are legal, which it sounds like you are taking. Understand that the association can only enforce its own rules. If you have made a complaint of a rules violation, the next step is for the Board to review the complaint and take whatever action they can against the violator as outlined in the association’s governance documents. This is typically a warning letter, followed by a fine or fines for multiple violations. That is really all they can do. If laws are being broken, i.e. noise ordinances, then you can follow through with legal action, which you are doing. While your disability may impede the ease of making such a complaint, you are free to hire an attorney to represent you if need be. If Legal Aid will handle that for you, by all means, have them do so. Ultimately, I think your plan of leaving the association is a good one. Hopefully, your new home will come with better neighbors. All the best!