Upstairs Splash, Downstairs Nightmare for this HOA Resident

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P.M. writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a multi-story condo. In June of 2012, I noticed a warp on the upper corner of my shower walls. I was almost certain that it was caused by a water spill from the unit above mine. A similar incident had occurred a few years ago when there was a gush of water that came from the above unit. At that time, I spoke with the upstairs unit owner and in a few days she had the problem taken care of. The problem was the overflow of her bathtub was broken. With this in mind, I spoke with the new owner of the above unit and advised them to fix the problem and the damaged wall. He did nothing about it. I then notified our condo manager who made several attempts to have the unit owner fix the damaged shower wall and the leak as well. The damage was not repaired and, in fact, has grown worse.

The condo manager who was trying to help me has retired and a new condo manager is now in place. The new condo manager decided to involve the President of the HOA. All parties, including the upstairs unit owner came to my unit to inspect the damage with the unit owner of the unit above mine agreeing to repair the damage. Several months have now gone by and the repairs have not been made by the upstairs unit owner. I am often away for long periods of time as I travel quite frequently. However, I have no problem providing access to my unit for the repair as I have a nephew who lives nearby and I have even authorized the building manager to allow repair workers into my unit while I am gone.

Please give me governmental referral help and or a good lawyer. HELP…PLEASE HELP ME.

Mister Condo replies:

P.M., I am sorry for your problems and the fact that as time goes by your problems, especially with the growth of mold, seem to be multiplying. As you know, mold is not a problem to be taken lightly. There can be severe health risks associated with mold damage that is not remediated. You close your question with a request for a governmental referral and/or a good lawyer. The damage you have described was not caused by your HOA; it was clearly caused by your upstairs neighbor. Depending on the dollar amount of the repair, this is a matter that might be cleared up by simply suing your neighbor in Small Claims court. That is to say if you call a mold remediation contractor and someone to repair your damaged drywall and find the dollar amount is less than $2500, you might be better off simply hiring the contractor yourself, making the needed repairs, and bringing suit against your neighbor for the amount of the repairs. If the amount is over the threshold for Small Claims in your area, you may need to bring a civil suit against your neighbor. Either way, you can either do that yourself or hire an attorney to assist you. You may even be able to claim the cost of the attorney in your suit which would be ideal for you. Any competent attorney with real estate or small claims experience should be able to assist you but if you need an expert with HOA experience, I suggest you contact your local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (http://caionline.org) and see if they don’t have member attorneys who specialize in HOA law. From what you have described to me, this should be a pretty simple solution that will solve your problem. All the best!

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