L.G. from Worcester County, Maryland writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I own a condo in a coastal beach town as a second home. Six months ago, new deck coating was put down and the contractor did a horrible job. The deck coating immediately became filthy. The condo board announced that the contractor would fix the deck coating on the first floor only, where it’s the worst. The board notified owners that they are shutting down our entire building for five days, from December 5 – December 10. Owners were told that they’re not allowed access to our units during that time. My family uses our unit about 2 – 3 days a week. We purchased it in 1994, and the building has never been completely shut down for a simple deck re-coating. I have suggested that the board work with the contractor to develop a schedule, so it can be done in stages and the building can remain open, as has occurred in past years. Crickets from the board. This is not a safety issue — it is purely cosmetic. I’m glad the work is being done, but since the contractor messed up the job in the first place, I think they should make accommodations to keep our building open, even if they have to break the job into smaller parts. Does the condo board have the right to shut down our entire building for five days, completely blocking owner access to our homes, to make a cosmetic fix? Thank you for any insights you can provide.
Mister Condo replies:
L.G., I am sorry that you and your fellow unit owners were denied access to your units because of a mistake that a contractor made. The decision to allow the contractor back to correct the error was the Board’s to make. The Board is comprised of democratically elected members of your association. These volunteer leaders make the decisions that they feel are in the association’s best interest. My guess is that they thought it best to have the contractor remedy his mistakes as soon as possible and that meant closing the building. There may have been no other option presented to them that they felt was in the association’s best interest. When election time comes up again, a decision like this could lead to members of your association electing different leaders who would make different decisions. However, that is impossible to know. The Board had the authority to do what they did, in my opinion. The challenge to lead through volunteer service isn’t an easy one. Making unpopular decisions is not likely the reason any of them chose to serve. After all, they were inconvenienced as well. You would be well within your rights to ask for a more detailed description of why the decision was made but it is ultimately the Board’s decision to make. All the best!