M.D. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
A resident in a nearby condo complex is at wit’s end. The water is very brown, and the complex was cited for violation from the Department of Health several months ago. It is common elements that are the problem (the boiler and pipes), and the town says it isn’t their problem to force the board to remedy it. There are a number of boilers, each services a number of units, so this impacts more than one resident, but they can’t get a group together to make a group complaint, at least not so far. However, this water they have been told not to drink, but OK to bathe in (but it is horribly brown, and shocking), nobody would want to put their child or infant in this water. What can be done? Since the town says it is a private matter, would even hiring an attorney help? Can the resident(s) file an insurance claim? On the homeowner policy? On the master policy? A D&O claim?
Mister Condo replies:
M.D., what a horrible situation! It doesn’t look like the local municipality is at fault and the Department of Health is saying there is nothing they can do either since the problem is emanating from the condo’s own water handling system. You certainly could hire your own attorney and sue the association for not maintaining the equipment that delivers clean water to the units but before you rush off and do that, I have to assume that many, if not all, residents are angry about the dirty water. Why not just insist that the Board deal with the problem and correct it? There may even be some Board members who are being affected by the dirty water. I doubt this is an insurance issue so filing insurance claims isn’t likely to help. Even one home owner being provided with dirty water is enough for the Board to correct the problem. If they flat out refuse, a lawsuit may be your only other recourse. That can get expensive and even lengthy. You need the clean water NOW. I would keep on top of the Board and the management company daily until the problem is fixed or a solution is offered. Consult with an attorney to make sure you don’t overlook any other legal options available to you. I sure hope you get this problem cleaned up quickly. Good luck!
1 thought on “Condo Boiler Delivers Dirty Water”
I think a course of action could be to send certified letters (w/return receipt) to the property manager and also to the board (look up Sec of State registered agent address), citing Dept of Health violation letter and their failure to act, and stating their need to have a plan of action to correct within 15 days. During those 15 days, you can obtain claim consultation from assn insurance agency for guidance to file a D&O maintenance negligence claim and also a complaint on the CAM license of the property manager (through Dept of Consumer Protection). The board may claim it is a unit owner(s) issue, so there may also be need to file a homeowner policy claim, and let the insurers fight it out. The D&O policy isn’t going to cover intentional, willful actions, so if the D&O coverage informs them of that, the directors could be personally liable. At that point, you may need to file a lawsuit, the directors would have to pay for their own defense, that might get them to act when it hits their own wallet, Also, property managers are routinely sued along with the association. If you need to pursue, look up condo lawsuits on the CT judicial website that your property manager and local condo assns have been sued, to find an attorney who has helped win similar type of claims and also obtained plaintiff atty costs and damages, etc.