Category Archives: Property Management

Condo Electronic Key Deactivated by Property Manager

O.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The property manager disconnected my electronic key because I authorized a person HE DOESNT LIKE IT to enter to my property as desired.

Mister Condo replies:

O.P., I am sorry that your electronic key privileges were revoked. Without knowing the rules of how your electronic keys are allowed to be used, I am not certain if sharing it with anyone is allowed, let alone a person disliked by the Property Manager. I doubt the Property Manager can simply disable a key without having to report such activity to the Board, to whom the Property Manager must answer. If you feel your key was deactivated inappropriately, complain to the Board so they can take action. On the other hand, if you have violated the rules of the electronic key use by sharing the code with someone who you shouldn’t have shared it with, I would advise you not to do it again. I assume the reason there are electronic keys in the first place is to provide building security. They are convenient to be sure but must be protected if they are to be useful as a security measure. All the best!

Property Manager Purchases Condo in Managed Association

B.S. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Wondering if you see any conflicts for a Florida CAM to purchase a unit to reside in and still remain as the onsite property manager. The Board sees no conflict of interest but some owners are questioning if there is a conflict, as the onsite manager may have some inside information that other owners may not be privy too. Your thoughts on if you think there are any conflicts?

Mister Condo replies:

B.S., I do not see any conflict of interest but I do appreciate the concern of some owners for the potential for a conflict of interest although as a unit owner who would be affected directly by insider information, I would also think the conflict of interest might even go in the direction of the association. What unit owner wants to see his/her own association make financial mistakes or poor decisions? Not only does the property manager need to worry about his/her job performance but also has a personal interest in the success of the association. On the flip side, if the property manager’s unit gets preferential treatment, unit owners would be right to call foul. My advice would be to allow the property manager the ownership of the unit and to keep a vigilant eye on how the unit is treated. The Board keeps an eye on the Property Manager by default. They might need to make sure there is nothing unusual going on but I really doubt the manager would risk his/her job over abusing their power to give themselves preferential treatment. Good luck!

Condo Sheetrock Project Creates Dusty Nightmare for Residents

J.T. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a 65-unit owned condo. Our manager refuses to clean the hardwood laminate flooring until the plumbing project is complete. It is covered in sheetrock dust and tracking everywhere in the common areas. What can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

J.T., there isn’t too much you can do as a resident other than complain to the Board to apply pressure to the Property Manager and/or the contractor doing the work. Sheetrock projects generally create dust and a better plan for the project would have included dust control measures. That component was either overlooked or the Board decided to take a cheaper route and not include it. The end result is the messy situation you have right now. Not all projects are as simple as hiring a contractor to do the work. Sometimes you need to think about the side effects on residents. This is a great example of how that lack of foresight lead to a bad living experience for residents. The good news is that “this, too, shall pass” and that the project is likely already over and the repaired area looks great. Remind the Board that future projects should include a plan for dust remediation, even if it costs a little extra. All the best!

Leaky Toilet Noise Disturbs the Condo Peace. Shoddy Repair Work Disturbs the Owner!

N.H. from Alberta, Canada writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I had issues with a continuous flow of water from my toilet. Although the flap is closed, it’s not filling water in the tank. I did not know that flowing noise had affected the units below me, & made complaints to the manager. Got a call ” someone is coming to check your water between 9-10am” That’s all. I thought they are checking each unit of our building due to murky water issues as posted in our mailroom & elevators. I let the guy in. I was surprised why he went to my bathroom fixing it. I told my kids, how did this guy knew about my toilet? Two days later, a lady phoned me if my toilet was fixed. I said No, it started to run again unless I close the rubber flap manually with my finger. She asked if she can send Environment ??? to come fix it. I said No, my son can fix it. Then I got an invoice to pay the condo a back charge of over $500.00 for 5 hours labor including 1 hour travelling. I relayed the message to the manager that I am not paying. I was not made aware of the complaints made, & did not specify what that guy was doing. Then for the weekend, I intentionally let the water run again all night to prove that the plumber’s work was not successful. They got complaints again. One lady came up & told me to shut off my toilet. Then the caretaker phoned that I should shut off the switch underneath my toilet which I did. Few days after, my son came & fixed it in 10 minutes time. I also read in their March 31 board meeting minutes that they found where the noise came from & the owner will pay. This is totally without my knowledge what was happening. My manager just went ahead & did her thing without telling me anything. Today, my manager left a phone message that it is a by law. Is she right? If not, I`ll fight it in court & go to the media Go Public. Thank you very much for your kindness on helping a senior like me. Thank you for responding & for your advice.

Mister Condo replies:

N.H., thank you for your letter and let me express how sorry I am that your situation was not handled better all the way around. You seem like a reasonable person who meant no harm and was very willing to use a “common sense” approach to fix a problem that you were largely unaware of having an effect on your neighbors. That being said, “common sense” and common interest communities don’t always exist together. Your by-laws define what is and isn’t acceptable. The reality is that you had a faulty toilet valve of some sort creating a noise nuisance for your fellow unit owners, who have the right to a peaceful environment as defined in your by-laws. The neighborly way to approach this would have been to alert you to the problem and ask you to fix it or offer to have a repairman come fix it at your expense. While I don’t agree with the customer service or lack thereof that you received during this little fiasco, it sounds like the problem is now resolved. That the good news. The bad news is that you are being stuck with a $500 repair bill for a repair job that didn’t work and that you don’t want to pay for. Here is where “common sense” goes out the window and the association’s governance documents will come into play. It is quite possible that the association has the right to dispatch a repairman to your unit at your expense. The only way to know for sure is to check your by-laws and see what they say about handling unit repairs, especially those repairs that cause damage or nuisance to neighboring units. It may be cheaper to simply pay this bill than try to fight the association. Perhaps you can offer to split the bill with them or ask them for a refund from the repairman since he didn’t actually fix the problem. The bottom line is that the repairman was hired by them but at your expense, as per association documents. They should expect that the repair was done properly and at a reasonable price. Neither are true. If they can negotiate a lower bill or a waiving of the bill for failure to perform the repair, you might benefit from the savings. If the dollar amount were a good deal higher, I might suggest you hire an attorney and fight it but at $500 it would cost more to fight it than just pay it. And keep your son handy for any other repairs that he can make so quickly. If his handyman skills had been made at the beginning of this problem, none of this would have happened. I wish you all the best!

Property Manager Running Condo Board Meetings

K.M. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can/should a manager chair Board of Directors meetings. The Board of my Condo in Florida asked our manager to chair the meetings because they believe he can do it more efficiently.

Mister Condo replies:

K.M., that is a good question and I could go either way with my response. First and foremost, it is clearly the role and responsibility of the Board President to conduct and preside over the Board meeting. Governance documents require it and it is usually right in the description of duties for the role. However, perhaps the Board president is not familiar or comfortable with Roberts Rules of Order, has no interest in becoming a parliamentarian, or just isn’t comfortable actually chairing the meeting. I can see no reason that the manager could not assist the President by taking on the duties of running the meeting without actually having any authority or ability to cast votes. The authority is granted to the Board. The ability to vote is a Board right, not a Property Manager right. So, while I would be careful to keep a close eye on the situation, I have a hard time telling you the practice should not be allowed. It is quite possible that the Board could not properly carry out its duties without the Property Manager’s assistance and guidance at the Board meeting. However, if there is any sign that the Property Manager is influencing vote outcomes or doing anything else that is preventing the Board from truly functioning independently, I would suggest ceasing the practice. Additionally, I would hope the Board President is learning from the Property Manager’s leading of the meeting and can, at some point, resume the duties of running the meeting. Running a Board meeting is such a rudimentary duty of being Board President that I would have to question the long-term leadership ability of a Board President who wasn’t eventually up to the task. All the best!

Condo Manager Turns Off Unit Owner’s Furnace!

A.H. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can my association manager turn off my working furnace because it makes loud noise when kicking on without notifying me first? This furnace is known for this and we’ve been having this same furnace for over 15 years without any complaints or issues…overall, it’s a working furnace. Please help!

Mister Condo replies:

A.H., I am sorry that your association manager took such a drastic measure as turning off your furnace and gave you no warning. As to whether or not he should have done that and without warning is really a question of who owns the furnace and what the rules say about it. I have to assume someone complained about the loud noise and the manager took action to address that complaint. Now, it’s your tune to complain about the lack of a functioning furnace. You will want to involve the Board as they are the folks responsible for giving the manager his marching orders. Ideally, the furnace will run and the noise will be abated. However, that may require a new furnace to be installed and the Board may not want to do that. Work with all the parties involved. I am sure you can find a happy ending here. Stay warm!

This Condo Repair Job is for the Birds!

L.W. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi, I’ve had an issue with a bird nest outside on my soffit. My condo is refusing to pay for the removal even though it’s part of the building. This has been going on for several months. I’ve been calling the condo President constantly to no avail. We recently hired a Management company and the President is very rude. I had my cousin talk to both of them and they both told him the birds are gone. Due to this problem, I have copious amounts of bird feces on my balcony. I own a screened in balcony which is the problem. Since their handy man doesn’t know how to take the screen apart they told my cousin I refused service. I have rights as a home owner and not wanting it to be damaged. What recourse do I have?

Mister Condo replies:

L.W., I am sorry that you are facing such an ornery challenge enjoying your condo living experience. Birds, bats, raccoons, rats and other wildlife often find condo dwelling to their liking. You are correct in assuming that the Board is the responsible party for correcting the situation. However, calling the condo President constantly is not a good strategy to have the situation remedied. Since you have a Property Management company to deal with, they are likely going to be the ones who will dispatch the handyman to remove the nest. The complication of the screened porch adds a new wrinkle but it shouldn’t be the end of the process. It sounds like another repairman will be needed to remove the screen without damaging it. Who owns the screen? If it is you, you may have to arrange to have the screen removed at your expense so the association’s handyman can do his work to remove the bird nest. If the screen is association-owned, then they will need to have the screen removed before they can remove the nest and then return the screen to its original position. You asked about recourse. First, you need patience. Coordinating two different repair people may take some time and the Board is not technically under a time constraint. That being said, your only true recourse is to bring action against the Board for not dealing with the problem. That can be costly and time-consuming. My advice is to work with the Board, the Property Management company, and the workers dispatched to deal with the problem. It will take some time but it sounds like they are on the way to getting it done. Good luck!

Inadequate Condo Board Meeting Notice

N.T. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am a first-time condo owner in California for a year. I wrote a letter to the board requesting for reimbursement for an expense that my condo insurer and I felt was a responsibility of the HOA to prevent further damage to the interior since the HOA contractor was overwhelmed and was unavailable. I wanted to attend the next board meeting in case my issue comes up on the agenda. The board typically meets on a certain day of the week every other month. The community newsletter typically indicates which day the month prior or it has been rescheduled. However, the past month the date was left empty on the newsletter but there was a meeting and my issue was raised and I was not there to clarify the statement the manager made which was not true. My question, is the board required to publicize the dates of the board meeting? I plan on attending the next board meeting which was publicized in this month newsletter which listed both the prior month meeting date that occurred and the upcoming meeting date. Thank you in advance and will greatly appreciate any information you can provide.

Mister Condo replies:

N.T., I am sorry that your introduction to condo living has been so controversial and that you experienced problems right off the bat. You asked about meeting notice requirements and the short answer is, yes, the Board does need to give advance notice to all unit owners of the association as outlined in either the governing documents or local or state law. Typically, the notice requirement is in writing to the individual unit owners, although other methods may be acceptable as long as they are agreed to by the unit owners. If the newsletter is the standard and medium used then that is how it is done in your community. I will say that a newsletter alone is not typically considered due process for serving notice of a Board meeting and that email would be more common in this day and age. The notice needs to include the agenda as well as the date and time. Board meetings are open for unit owners to attend but unit owners don’t participate unless asked by the Board to do so. In your case, you wanted to clarify your petition to the Board for reimbursement for expenses you made to prevent further damage. Ideally, the Board would have undertaken this expense and you wouldn’t have been out of pocket in the first place. The Board, and only the Board, can make repairs or alterations to common elements even though common sense likely drove you to take the action you took. I hope you are not out a tremendous amount of money. It might be best to write this one off and understand that you need to let the Board take this action if it comes up again. Good luck!

Too Much Condo Surveillance?

R.S. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We just discovered that the Front desk person of the building is recording and typing up every conversation, comment, and who is sitting in the lobby for more than 30 minutes. This “spying” is being done without resident knowledge or communication that their conversation will be written. Residents have been told the front desk is meant to announce visitors, accept packages, sign in visitors…. not security etc. Is this legal??

Mister Condo replies:

R.S., I can see where this “big brother”-like behavior could be disconcerting. However, I do not think it is illegal as the front desk and lobby area are common property of the association. There should not be any expectation of privacy in such a place. The more important question here is why is this behavior going on at all? The Board is responsible for the going’s on of the association and management of the common areas. If you have a management company handling the management of these common areas, it is quite possible that this employee is following orders from them either at the request of the Board or the Management Company. Either way, your next move is to ask the Board why this type of record is necessary and that you and many other residents feel it is not. The Board can then decide to continue or discontinue the practice. Good luck!

Condo Cable Installation Costs Out of Control

C.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo association just hired a new management property company. This property company has created rules for the cable company to follow in order to gain access to the electrical room where the cable hook ups are located. The cable tech can get access one of three ways 1) to drive to the management office to pick up the key (20 miles there and back, not to mention having to return the key) – the cable tech said they are not willing to do that 2) the cable tech can send an email to the management property with their employee id, but the techs say they are not allowed to send emails to anyone outside of the company 3) I can pay the management company $40 an hour to come and open the door. If the cable company gives me a 4-hour block and the management company stays until the cable tech is done, that could easily be 5 hours and close to $200 to get my cable fixed. I have tried to ask the board, but the management property states that the board wants everything to go through the management property company and they have not passed this issue to the board. Can the management company do this? The old management wouldn’t charge anything.

Mister Condo replies:

C.B., they absolutely can! The problem is with your Board, not your Management Company. If the Board doesn’t apply pressure to the management company to change their policy, the management company can pretty much do whatever it wants. The management company works for the Board, not you. Your displeasure at having to pay these extra fees is of no concern to the management company. In fact, it is quite profitable from what you describe. You need to complain to the Board and also speak with other unit owners who must be having the same issue as you. If enough you get fed up with the Board, it is time to elect new Board Members who will pressure the management company to change this policy or risk losing the management contract. If those things don’t happen, the policy is likely to remain in place. Enjoy your cable and good luck!