S.J. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Today I received an email from our property manager company stating that I was going to be assessed fees for repairs to the siding on our building. Attached was a picture of my 19-year-old son standing outside with a lacrosse stick. The claim was that my son had damaged the siding. My son did not damage the siding and the claim is completely unwarranted.
Two years ago, we had storm damage to many of our units and the old property management sent out notices to co-owners that repairs were being made. At this time, our board decided to change management companies and the repairs to our unit were never made.
I was able to obtain the original incomplete work order from the old company as proof that my son did not damage the siding. My concern is will they be able to charge me for this and what is the best way to handle the inappropriateness of a board member taking pictures and claiming something that is not true.
Mister Condo replies:
S.J., I am sorry you find yourself having to do battle with your Board. Any unit owner, including a Board member, is allowed to make a claim of damage against another unit owner. They can even take photos when warranted. The Board is then charged with informing the unit owner (you) and offering you a chance to address the Board to present your defense, denial, or acceptance of the claim against you. Clearly, you are denying the claim and you have your own evidence to support your denial. After you make your counterclaim, the Board is free to do as it sees fit within the bounds of your governing documents. Can they deny your rebuttal and claim your son caused the damage? Yes. Can you then sue them for their actions? Yes, again. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and that cooler heads prevail. It seems only logical that since your building’s storm damage was never repaired that these repairs need to be made. The claim against your son is scurrilous at best but may be taken seriously be the Board. You may wish to speak to an attorney if they proceed to charge the repairs to you and you will likely prevail from what you have shared with me here. If there is a pattern of harassment from this one particular Board member that took the photo, you might just want to sue them as well. That should get their attention so they can focus on the more important job of repairing the storm damage to the building and not look to saddle individual homeowners with their responsibility. All the best!
1 thought on “Condo Board Members Attribute Storm Damage to Unit Owner’s Son”
What a sad situation!
Before suing, there are several steps you can take with an attorney that establishes your position.
You may be best advised to find an owner-friendly, CAI-vetted attorney in your geography **who believes in your case**. This may mean that you interview several (This will help you stay away from an attorney only interested in billing you hourly….).
Ask your attorney to send a letter to the board that includes your evidence. An affidavit from your son (and his lacrosse stick) honestly relating his relationship with the siding belongs in this evidence package.
The letter could also ask the board to complete the unrepaired storm damage, together with a demand that they back away from their claim against you, the unit owner.
If your board has sent you an official notice of violation, read your governing documents so that you understand the violation hearing process — completely. In addition, you may be afforded the right to video document the event. You should also be afforded the right to have your attorney present.
When the board understands its responsibilities here, you can help everyone avoid the courthouse and a protracted legal situation.