Mixed Use Condo With a Mixed Up Business Owner

D.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condo of three units, 2 homes and 1 business. We had a meeting and we were discussing installing compressors for new central air conditioners for each unit. The business would be replacing an existing compressor which was located under my stairway to my front door. My front door is actually located on the backside of the house. The other units’ front doors are in the front. We agreed to have them installed in a new location under a different stairway so as not to hurt anyone’s value or change the look of the grounds. The business owner who was replacing his could not leave his in the same place due to a change in building codes because it was close to meters. Without my knowledge or the other home owners’ knowledge the business owner had his compressor replaced and had it installed next to my front staircase in a common area. He has violated the bylaws because he cannot place anything without a 25-day advance notice in a letter format and must have our consent on it. He also went against the association who had agreed we would locate them under another deck. I have written him emails and told him he has violated the bylaws and such but he will not relocate it and basically is playing dumb to everything. Me and the other home owner hold 51% of the vote together so even if he lies now and says he didn’t agree it didn’t matter he would still be out voted. He has devalued my unit also by installing it next to my stairs and if I can’t get it moved by him I will have to put up with the noise. I have the backing other the president of the association but even when she tells him to move it he is carefully in his responses and just says he doesn’t understand even though we have spelled it out clearly to him. If I get a lawyer what will that get me, if they write a letter. Can I make it pay for my lawyer’s costs through the condo so how to get my money back? Do you have any suggestion what steps to take next and what should I expect to see in a letter written by a lawyer? Please tell me your thoughts am I stuck with this unit near my stairs devaluing my investment.

Mister Condo replies:

D.L., from what you have told me, you need an attorney to sue the business owner for violating the by-laws of the association. When you speak with an attorney, be sure to ask that the legal fees are incorporated in the settlement. You may be able to settle this through arbitration if the business owner is willing but it doesn’t sound like he is being cooperative or even acknowledging that he has violated the rules for installing a new air conditioner. Mixed use condominiums such as yours can be tricky but the rules are in place to protect all owners from something like this happening. Your association could also decide to foot the bill for the lawsuit seeing as the rules of the association were violated. In fact, the attorney will better let you know who has the better case. The business owner didn’t install the A/C unit on your land; he installed it on association property. As such, the association may be the aggrieved party. This is what attorneys are for. It’s time to get one involved.

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