M.A. from Dupage County, Illinois writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I own a first-floor condo unit that is used as rental property. The unit above mine has a flooring issue that is related to the support beams in my ceiling. The ceiling is being torn out of my unit from the dining area through the living room and family room. My tenants, who had every intention of re-signing their lease, were told they would have to move because of this issue. The joists have to be reinforced in my ceiling and the floor upstairs will need to have the concrete barrier removed, replaced and the flooring repaired before my ceiling can be replaced. We are now going into the second month of no income in our unit due to the work that needs to be done and they have not even obtained bids for the work. They say this could go on for 6 months. Time does not seem to be of the essence. What recourse do we have to try to capture some of the lost income? Our homeowners’ insurance will not cover the lost income. The HOA will not relieve us of our $400.00 per month fee during this time. We are retired and on fixed income. Do the owners of the unit above us have any financial responsibility? Thank you in advance for your help. And direction. The unit, by the way, is 40 years old.
Mister Condo replies:
M.A., I am sorry for the inconvenience and loss of income this situation has caused. This is certainly a most unusual story for me to hear. Basically, the association has made your unit uninhabitable. I wouldn’t expect the association to forgive the common fees due as the fees are used for association expenses and you are still a member of the association. However, if your homeowners’ insurance isn’t covering the cost of the loss of use of your unit, I would think it is time to speak to a locally qualified attorney. I am not an attorney so I offer no legal advice in this column. As a matter of common sense, it would follow that if the association has made your unit uninhabitable, they bear some responsibility for that loss. Additionally, if the upstairs unit caused the damage that the association is now repairing, they may have the ultimate responsibility. This is exactly what attorneys are for. Don’t hesitate. Get a legal opinion and try to get yourself some relief. All the best!