K.T. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
How long is too long to wait for siding repairs? Or any covered repair? I have contacted the Board since late April about damage to the siding on our unit. They’ve gotten one estimate which didn’t even happen until July. I was told it would “hopefully” be fixed within 30 days after the estimate. Well we are still waiting for the president of the association to answer my last email sent over a week ago regarding the status. I was on the Budget Committee and know we have the funds to repair the damages. I am beyond frustrated. I’m considering contacting my attorney! My fees are always on time and I pay to have these matters resolved in a timely manner. I don’t want to have to pay my attorney for something that should have been done some time ago. This is ridiculous. The secretary advised me on Thursday that she couldn’t get anyone else to come out to provide an estimate. I find that hard to believe. Is there any legal action a unit owner can take and hold the association liable for legal fees? Or are there other actions we can take that may be state mandated in CT? We are self managed by the way & the president is NOT a unit owner. He also has asked other board members not to respond to any emails without his consent. Thank you!
Mister Condo replies:
K.T., I am sorry for your struggles. Condo living can be challenging when simple common sense doesn’t appear to be the order of the day when exterior damage repairs are seemingly delayed for no good reason. I am not quite certain how you have a Board President who is not a unit owner but that is a separate matter. I will say that it is unusual unless the association is still under developer control but that doesn’t sound like that is the case here. Check your requirements for service on the Board. If the rules state that Board Members must be unit owners, it is time for the Board President to be replaced. Let’s talk about your specific issue.
There is no firm timeframe for exterior unit repairs to be made. The exterior of your unit is owned by the association and not you. While it is most definitely impacting your enjoyment of your unit and the burb appeal of your unit, it would be difficult for you to demonstrate how you were harmed by the length of time the repair is taking. A lawsuit is your only remedy and the standards for which you would prevail are pretty high. The suit is at your own expense and while you could try to include your legal expenses in your suit, you would first have to win the suit and then have your legal fees awarded as part of your damages. That doesn’t sound too promising from what you have described here. Of course, I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice here. You should speak with a qualified attorney to see if you have a legal remedy at your disposal.
From a practical standpoint, you have done what you are supposed to do. Depending on how often the Board meets, the repair is largely in their hands. You mentioned that your association is self managed which may add to the delay if there is no acting manager to deal with the day to day ordeals of working with contractors, estimators, etc.. You didn’t mention if the association had an insurance claim in against the damage but that can slow things down as well.
What usually happens in these situations is the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Keep on top of the Board for status updates. Don’t let months go by without getting an update. If you feel that you have been harmed financially by this slow process, seek legal counsel to consider a lawsuit. Other than that, be ready for a delayed process. Board members are volunteer leaders and if they aren’t getting the job done for the association, you can always elect new leaders come the next election cycle. Good luck!