Tag Archives: Attorney

Neighboring Condo Unit Owned by a Hoarder

J.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The unit next to me is owned by a hoarder who moved in during 2015. The owner is hoarding on the deck/common elements outside as well as inside the unit. There are no window treatments so you can see piles upon piles of “stuff” inside the unit. I have complained to my association in June of this year because my unit had mice. (I have owned for 10 years and never had a rodent prior to this) They have done very little and communicated very little to me despite my calls/requests for assistance. They had the County Board of Health come and just confirm that it is a hoarding situation, that the mice are most definitely coming from there but the BOH has stated there is little they can do about the conditions on the inside of the unit. I had the Fire Marshall some and speak with the unit owner but they have limited power as well. He did let them know a neighbor is upset and asked them to clean up and they said they would. Of course, they did not. I had an exterminator come out, they did their best but stated if the cleanup doesn’t happen this will be a recurrent issue and it could get much worse. Well two months later and I have mice again. I have contacted the Board several times with zero response, Mister Condo, without the board acting. We have antiquated by-laws that’s don’t address hoarding. What are my options at this point? I was told to sue the board and the neighbor. Do you have any wisdom on this issue? I’m really losing hope and thinking I need to sell my condo.

Mister Condo replies:

J.C., hoarding is a real problem at condos and apartments around the country, not just in your community. I am very sorry for your particular horror story. You are doing all the right things. You also need to contact an attorney. Regardless of what the Board can and cannot do to get this hoarding situation under control, you need to have your property rights protected and that might very well include a lawsuit against the hoarder and the association. The problem is that hoarding isn’t properly addressed in association rules and by-laws. Further, the courts have often sided with the homeowner right to live in their home as they see fit. The legal battle happens when their lifestyle creates “nuisance” for other unit owners (like you). Selling your unit is certainly a viable option but finding a buyer is likely to be quite challenging with a mouse infestation problem. A savvy buyer would surely notice the sights and smells that are usually associated with a neighboring unit housing a hoarder but I wouldn’t rule it out as one possible and realistic solution to your problem. My advice is that you consult with an attorney, gather up as much information as you can, and make an informed decision about whether to stay in place or sell your unit. Good luck!

Condo Association Looks to Remove Use of Common Elements from Delinquent Unit Owner

C.S. from New London County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

If an owner who has NOT paid Condo fees for a considerable amount of time (4yrs), can the condo association revoke the owner from parking in their assigned parking spot? Also, can the association revoke the privilege of having a storage unit?

Mister Condo replies:

C.S., typically speaking, the association may not remove any of the delinquent unit owner’s rights. In fact, if the association takes such action against the delinquent unit owner, they will very likely be sued by that unit owner. Delinquent common fee collection is separate from unit owner’s rights. There is a process that the association should be undertaking to collect this serious delinquency. That involves collection letters, demands, liens, and, ultimately, foreclosure against the unit. There are many collection firms and law firms in our state to assist the association. Do it the right way, and you’ll get your money. Do it the wrong way and the association will likely end up getting sued. Step carefully and get the money. Good luck!

Sample Condo Co-Ownership Agreement

S.E. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi I am looking for a sample co ownership agreement for two or more people owning a single condo unit.

Mister Condo replies:

S.E., co-ownership agreements are legal documents and they are not “one size fits all” as there are different laws in each state that would need to be taken into consideration before preparing such a document. Also, since I am not an attorney, I don’t offer any legal opinions or advice here. On a friendly note, I did a quick internet search of your query and found a great document at one of my favorite internet legal advice websites, nolo.com. Check out: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/joint-property-concurrent-ownership-32229.html. This article deals with various types of co-ownership and co-tenancy agreements. It might head you in the right direction. The best advice I have for you is to work with a locally qualified attorney who can give you the best answer for your part of the country. Happy Co-Ownership!

Condo Developer Refuses to Sell or Properly Maintain Association Amenities

R.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo complex was built about 25 years ago. The developer plans to build housing on the site and has retained ownership of the amenities such as the clubhouse, pool and tennis courts. The clubhouse is an unusable disaster (even has boarded up windows) and the tennis courts are in very poor condition. The pool is questionable but is used and maintained in the summer months only. After that it is an uncovered green swamp I get to look at. My window overlooks the pool. The current condo owners fund these facilities (in my opinion way too expensive) and yet have no control over our amenities. Our management company also manages the amenities that we don’t own. I see this as a conflict. Can anything be done to make this developer turn over the amenities?

Mister Condo replies:

R.M., I am sorry for the lack of properly maintained amenities at your association. Unfortunately, since the association does not own the amenities in question, there is very little that can be done. You can review the governance documents and developer agreements to see if there are any dates by which the association needs to have these amenities turned over or sold to them. Or the association can try to buy these amenities from the developer outright. However, the developer may be under no obligation to sell them to the association (or anyone for that matter). These are all important issues for a new community and buyers into such a community should have a full understanding of what is and isn’t included. Clearly, access to amenities owned by a third party (the developer) may be included but are subject to the whims of the amenity’s owner. You can certainly speak with the association’s attorney to see what legal remedies are available to the association but unless there is contractual paperwork that has been violated I can’t think of any other legal grounds whereby the developer can be forced to turn over the amenities. All the best!

Which Condo Governing Documents Take Precedence?

K.W. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What do you do when you have conflicting master deed, bylaws, and R&R’s? Which one would take precedence?

Mister Condo replies:

K.W., that is a very interesting question and one which I have heard before. However, since I am neither an attorney nor an expert in community association law in your state, I must refer you to local counsel, preferably an attorney who specializes in community association law. It is most typical that the Master Deed would take precedence but if your by-laws are part of the Master Deed, there is a conflict within the Master Deed as well. As you can see this is a matter for legal minds to sort through. I think it would be a good investment for the community to get this matter settled with legal help as soon as possible. All the best!

Previous Condo Unit Owner Had No Right to Modify Attic

S.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I bought my condo in February of 2015. On the mezzanine floor, the previous owner had extended in to the attic a sort of storage room. Basically, there is a door and it leads in to the roof attic for extra storage. I now received a registered letter to close up this area as per it being part of the common ground and is not entitled to me. What’s more is that I was never told by the inspector, the agent, nor the previous owner that it did not belong to me. This extra storage room made my decision for actually purchasing this unit. What can I do? Can I ask the board committee to keep this extra room or am I to close it up? Can I sue the previous owner, agent or/and inspector for not disclosing this room to me?

Mister Condo replies:

S.S., I am sorry for your predicament. The foul was created by the previous owner who had no business commandeering common space and modifying the unit without Board approval. You can certainly petition the Board to allow the modification but I don’t see why they should do so. If they allow it for your unit, they open themselves up to allowing similar modifications throughout the complex. You should comply with their request to return the unit to the condition before the modification was made. As for lawsuits, etc., I am not an attorney and I offer no legal advice here. You should speak with a locally qualified attorney to see if you have a case against the previous unit owner. My guess is that you might have a case but I am not sure how you could prove any damages to yourself that would be worth pursuing. All the best!

Condo Landlord Reluctant to Pay for Damage to Neighboring Unit

D.J. from Michigan writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have a condo. A little over 1 month ago, water was pouring out of my linen closet. I immediately ran to my neighbors, thinking they must not be home or left water running. They were and I advised water is pouring out of my linen closet. They came down to take a look. They are renters. I’m an owner. I notified the HOA that night, by phone and email. Eventually, after 2 days the HOA sent out professional to dry vac my carpeting and to detect the problem. Once the bathroom ceiling was opened up, linen closet ripped out the problem was located, and it was & has been determined the renter’s condo owner is responsible for basically getting my bathroom back together/carpeting replaced/drywalls repaired: I have no linen closet, because it was ripped out.

The owner of the other unit and the HOA are going back and forth as to who is responsible. The HOA has brought in an attorney to confirm they, meaning the other condo owner, are totally responsible. The owner feels as though the HOA is responsible, because it’s a common area. This is so bad, the owner has asked for the bylaws, which was provided. No one is doing anything, and I’m caught in the middle, totally. I can’t see this being resolved any time soon. The owner will not provide his insurance information, so a claim can be started. I’ve already asked the HOA for information & was told, the owner will not provide that information.

I’ve been very patient and understanding, but nothing is being done. I’m at the point I need to contact an attorney and sue the HOA, as well as the Owner, for my insolvencies, as well as repairs/replacement of items.

Mister Condo replies:

D.J., I am sorry for your worries and problems. Water damage at condos is far too common and, as you are seeing first-hand, it isn’t always a simple case of pointing to the cause and assessing the cost of repairs. Your closing comments are my best advice to you. It is long past the time of being patient and understanding. The other parties have hired attorneys, so should you. If the damage came from a common area, the other owner may have a point. If not, he may be responsible and have to pay or have his insurance company pay. Either way, your best interests will be protected by having your own attorney look out for them. Have you read the by-laws yourself? Sometimes it helps to have your own understanding of what is being contested. It doesn’t necessarily help resolve the matter any sooner but it might help you understand what the legal bickering is about. All the best!

How Too Many Non-Resident Unit Owners in a Condo Association Changes Everything

E.C. from Litchfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The same people who established the condominium in which I live still control it. Though units were first sold in 1990, one of the developers maintains 15 of the 130 units. This block of condo units represents 15 votes, which when added to condo units controlled by their friends on the board, leads to a lot of apparent financial shenanigans and bullying of owners who simply want a little transparency. About 70% of the owners currently rent out their units, mainly because they hate the way this place is run. Those of us who are left living here cannot seem to oust the trouble-making board, nor win the support of the non-resident owners who are generally apathetic, now that they’re gone and have a paying tenant to cover their costs. Many resident owners, however, are either angry, stressed, depressed, chronically ill, demoralized, etc. as a direct result of feeling powerless to do anything about their maltreatment by the current board, which has both directly and indirectly ruled the roost since the beginning. This is one miserable place. We have turned to lawyers and they say get a petition together to call a special meeting and vote the board out. This is not possible, given the apathy of so many non-resident owners — many of whom also fear retaliation by certain board members and their property management company, which has been with them from the very start. The resident owners who really care about reform — and who have been suffering physical and emotional harm — have already been burned by one attorney who proved incompetent, so we are wondering if a class action lawsuit might be a viable avenue for us. We would let the attorney have all the winnings. We just want to see some justice done after all these years.

Mister Condo replies:

E.C., I am sorry for your situation. Associations that are largely under developer control even after the developer transition period is over can be tricky. Associations with large percentages of rental units come with their own problems. You have a double whammy at your association. Your best bet is increasing the numbers of resident owners who are willing to volunteer and serve on the Board if elected. As long as the resident owners are the minority, nothing will change, in my opinion. At their core, condo associations are democracies. The people with the most votes are the ones who govern the association. As long as those people are not resident owners, I don’t see much motivation for them to change how they govern. You indicate that this behavior has been going on for years. If it were me, I would have sold my unit by now. Unless you see the pendulum swinging towards more resident owners, I would encourage you and anyone else who is unhappy there to consider moving out. You can contact an attorney to see if you have a case but I haven’t heard of anything you’ve mentioned as being a valid reason for a lawsuit. Please keep in mind that I am not an attorney so my advice is strictly friendly. For a legal opinion, you will need to seek out the services of an attorney who could better guide you legally. Good luck!

Neighboring Association Trash Dumpster Intrusion

T.P. from Chicago writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The neighboring condo association has had their 2 garbage bins on our property for the last 6 years. I’ve always had a problem with that because, 1) they don’t maintain the area, I do, and 2) the liability of a “slip and fall” happening on our property by our neighbors or their trash removal company. I recently asked them to move the bins and was told “no”. Can I contact their trash removal company and have them move the bins? What other options do I have? Thank you from a Chicago Condo Board President.

Mister Condo replies:

T.P., unless there is some kind of agreement between the two properties, the neighboring association has no business intruding on your private property. This is a simple matter for your association attorney to remedy via lawsuit. Quite simply, the trash contractor is trespassing on your property. A “cease and desist” order should do the trick. If not, your association attorney can direct you to the next steps. You tried the easy was with the request for them to stop. They didn’t comply so it is time to escalate the situation. Good Luck!

Board Dragging Heels on Simple Repair Project

K.W. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Condo association has accepted responsibility to fix a pipe in a carport roof that freezes in low temperatures. It paid an engineer to recommend a fix. However, it has failed for 2 years to initiate a repair and will not give me the engineer’s report. My attorney has demanded action but has received no response. What can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

K.W., I think you are already doing all you can do. You have hired an attorney who will look out for your best interest in this matter. Since the association has acknowledged ownership of the problem, there really isn’t too much else you can do. Any idea what the delay is? Is it an expensive repair? My guess is they are just going to wrap the pipe in insulation and try not to make it too unsightly. Unless there is more to this story, I am not sure why it is taking them two years to handle this simple matter. Keep on top of your attorney and the Board to make sure the project gets done. Other than that, follow your attorney’s advice. Good luck!