Board Communications Condominium Governance Neighbor Issues Rules Enforcement Selling

Condo Board Challenges Continue in Pennsylvania

(Editor’s Note: this question is a follow-up to the original post that appeared on February 14, 2019. You can see that post here: https://askmistercondo.com/board-and-fellow-unit-owners-making-condo-life-uncomfortable/)

M.K. from Pennsylvania writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Thank you for your recent reply. We are taking your advice and putting our home on the market after doing $4K worth of work. The only thing holding us back is a job offer in another city. In the meantime, the old ladies and men are at it again. Last year I purchased two 8-foot window boxes and lined the top railing of the deck and put in a lot of flowering plants and 3-foot trees to block their view as I am on a corner property facing the street and a walking path in back. We got a letter last spring (while it was still cold and water still shut off) stating that our place was “unclean” and that we were storing furniture under “taupes” and we were to face a $500 fine. After fighting about this for a year (with no response as to re-inspection) or if their concerns were corrected, we get a letter in January, 2019 stating that we would be fined if we did not clean the area up and take care of a vine facing the street by May of 2019. This, after we had contacted them the entire year and explained that there were flower pots under the “taupes” the past winter of 2018 (which were Sunbrella outside furniture covers which are allowed) and our protesting that the area was indeed clean. They never re-inspected our place or addressed any replies in that whole year. (This is evidenced by the fact that they said the vine needed to be trimmed in Jan of this year when the vine is cut down to its base and has been so since fall-they never even looked at it.). In the meantime (SUMMER OF 2018) we hired a power washer to clean the siding which is their responsibility (and has not been done in 12 years and covered in areas with green mold). We also painted the whole deck, painted the door and cleaned everything that could be clean to sell the house. We also repainted the sidewalk (yes, they painted a concrete sidewalk after they damaged it and refused to re-paint it in 10 years). I know the reason they are complaining is that the old ladies are mad that we cut off access to their nightly deck viewing. I have no desire to be a monkey in a zoo, thank you. As of now March, 2019, I am recording each time I clean, pick up others trash and tidy up. What can you do when the condo association picks and chooses whom will follow the rules and whom do not? If all these people cleaned as much as I did they would have a great place but they let it run down where there are costly repairs in the future and in- fighting in the board. They just cannot be happy!!!  Are they allowed to fine me $500 based on their version of clean and for things that were corrected right away (Vine)? P.S. I have receipts of where I had cleaning done this past summer as I just could not do it all. I hope this will save me if they continue and fine me. We have told them such when we replied to their January, 2019 letter where they demanded that the area needed to be cleaned. Who in their right mind does this? It was 14 below the day I got the letter and no access to water. The deck was painted and cleaned in October, 2018 so it was clean. We are so unhappy here. It has been an awful experience.

Mister Condo replies:

M.K., I was originally going to edit down your complaint because there is just so much going on here it is hard to comprehend all of the back and forth between you and the Board. I left it intact so other readers can see just what you are going through and the ensuing chaos of what happens when a condo Board loses sight of what its primary mission is. I know you have already made the decision to sell your unit, which I wholeheartedly support. I do not see you and this Board ever seeing eye to eye on these matters and the problems seem to be escalating rather than diminishing. It is quite possible that you will be out of this community before there are more problems. As for fines and harassment issues, you may need to speak with an attorney to see what measures you can take to protect yourself. Unless your governing documents detail a system of fines and call for a $500 fine for “messy” or “dirty” appearances, the Board is behaving with more bark than bite. If you speak with an attorney who suggests you have a discrimination claim against the Board, I would strongly consider filing it. Even if you don’t prevail, it may make them think twice before further harassing you as you attempt to sell your unit and leave this community. All the best! 

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