T.D. from Virginia writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We rent out our condo. The outside is wood siding, which is warped and falling down. “Band-aid” fixes can be seen all over. I have a leaky ceiling inside, especially when there’s sideways rain. All other times it stays dry. The condo property management sent out a contractor in December, who said it was due to a problem with our deck (our responsibility) and not the siding. He then sent me a quote for his guy to fix the deck, at $1,200. I should insert here that we replaced the deck three years ago at a cost of over $4,000 and it appears fine. We had our deck contractor go out and make some adjustments around the door. While there, he sent us pictures of the missing and damaged siding. After more hard rain and a grumpy tenant, they finally got someone else out there, who pulled up some boards and said he could patch it for $650.00. When I asked the manager why the disparagement between the two estimates for the same problem (different solutions, but always pointing to the deck) he did not respond. So, here’s my problem: do I pay $650.00 to his guy since they are saying that’s the problem? When it rains again and the problem is as I suspect with the siding, what recourse do I have? It seems an easy fix to tell owners the problem is caused by their area of responsibility, when it’s pretty clear, the problem is in fact the siding. Any suggestions?
Mister Condo replies:
In a word, T.D., it is probably time to hire an attorney and sue the association for not fulfilling their maintenance responsibilities. Your building should look like it did when it was first built. Yes, there will be wear and tear over the years but there should never be siding that is “warped and falling down” without the association making the necessary repairs. Their argument that your deck is the culprit for your leaks may or may not be true but a simple engineering inspection should end that discussion. If it is your deck then you should take the steps to reengineer the deck so that there are no further water intrusions. It sounds like you are confident that your deck is in good order and not the problem. You can submit a report from your deck contractor supporting that statement or you can hire an engineer to support your claim. The Board is free to refute that report and hire their own engineer to make a different determination. If they do so and their report finds different from your deck engineer’s report then additional action may be necessary. This is where the attorneys may need to battle it out in court.
Siding is the responsibility of the association. Unless your governing documents state otherwise, it is the responsibility for the association to keep the common elements properly maintained. It is completely possible that your association has not been properly saving money for these repairs and that has led to the current deterioration but the cannot simply choose to let it be. In order to pay for the repairs, the Board may need to raise common fees, take out a loan, or pass a Special Assessment to raise the necessary cash. That could be very expensive for you and your fellow unit owners but it is the correct procedure for keeping the association’s common elements in top order. All the best!