Unhappy in Hoboken writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Due to the recent snow storms, my individual condo unit and the building of which it is a part suffered severe damage. My unit and several others continue to receive severe storm damage and water intrusion as the President of the Association has decided to delay fixing the roof until insurance proceeds are received for the building. Meanwhile, wet rot of the supporting beams, mold and water leakage continue unabated into my unit. What is my best course of action? The Association does not cover D&O insurance on the officers of the Association and the President was elected recently in a hastily held emergency unit owners meeting. Any referrals to effective law firms in the Hoboken area for this very issue or any other advice would be much appreciated.
Mister Condo replies:
Unhappy, I am sorry for your troubles. Winter has not been kind this year and your story of damage is all too common right now. Your reference to D&O insurance has me thinking that you feel this is an issue where you would like to go after the newly elected President of your association. I can appreciate your frustration with him and his decision to postpone repairs until insurance proceeds are received but that isn’t your real problem here. You need storm damage repairs and restoration to your unit now.
It appears to me that at the heart of this issue is money. If your association does not have a well-funded Reserve Fund, your association president may just be claiming that there is no money to perform the repairs. This is unfortunate but not uncommon. What’s worse is that your newly elected association president inherited this problem. It may be that your association is a candidate for alternate funding like a community association loan or even a special assessment to raise the capital for the repair of the common elements. The damage that was done to the interior of your unit is likely covered your homeowner’s insurance policy. Hopefully, you had a good policy in place before this disastrous event occurred.
I do believe you need some legal assistance on this issue and you have a wealth of attorneys in your neck of the woods that can help. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has an excellent chapter in New Jersey with a website at http://www.cainj.org/. They have many law firms and attorneys who specialize in community association law. You can search for an attorney at http://www.cainj.org/online-directory/filter-by-category/attorneys. They also have several members who specialize in Disaster Restoration who may be able to help – http://www.cainj.org/online-directory/filter-by-category/restoration-reconstruction-fire-water.
The bottom line is that you, your neighbors, and your association have been struck by a disaster. The next steps taken by all of the players are crucial in limiting and reducing the long-term effects of this disaster. You need professional help and your association may need professional guidance as well. If common sense solutions are not enacted in short order, you are well advised to seek legal representation to secure your investment. All the best!