I.B. from New London County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have a 24-unit townhouse style condo complex, divided into 3 buildings. One building has been sinking badly over the years. We have several engineering reports to that effect. The inside and outside of the building have widening cracks and the windows and doors will not open properly anymore. Our insurance got canceled because of this. I am a member of the board. We would like to have the building condemned. The building and fire officials in town refuse to do so. We looked into lifting and stabilizing the building but it is too costly and questionable if and how long it would work if at all (no guarantees).
Can we, as the board of directors, condemn the building and if so, how much of a majority would we need? Can a majority of the condo owners condemn the building?
Mister Condo replies:
I.B., I am truly sorry for the problems of you and your fellow homeowners. I am not an attorney so I cannot offer any legal advice here. I am not familiar with any condemnation procedures that are not carried out by municipalities. In other words, I am not sure if the Board has the ability to “condemn” the property unless your municipality allows such drastic measures. Since you have said that the local authorities refuse to condemn the building, I think I would look elsewhere for a solution to your problem. You have touched upon the proper remedy which looks to be lifting and stabilizing the building. That sounds reasonable to me although I share your concern over the expense and long-term solution to the problem. If you haven’t already done so, now would be a great time to involve a civil engineer, preferably someone with experience with this type of building rescue. Of course, you should also have an attorney looking out for the best interests of the association and to see if the developer has any responsibility for this type of problem. It is not a traditional construction defect but you might find out proper land studies were not conducted before construction began. At the end of the day, it is the association’s responsibility to maintain itself. If that is determined impossible, you will need the attorney to assist in whatever other legal wrangling will be needed to get through this challenge. Good luck!