M.P. from Washington, D.C. writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am the president of our small (4-unit) condo building. It was renovated and all units purchased 3-4 years ago. We’re now finding all sorts of places where the developer cut corners during the renovation. He never even got a certificate of occupancy for the building! We were first-time homebuyers who trusted our realtor and inspector, and now we’re facing major costs to fix the construction issues and get the building up to code so it will pass the C of O inspection. My wife and I have been trying to sell and move to a bigger place to start a family, but now it feels like we’re stuck here. Do you have any advice for us?
Mister Condo replies:
M.P., the old phrase “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” comes to mind as I read your question. Depending on the assurances offered by the home inspector’s report, you may have some recourse with the inspector. However, you now own the unit “as is”, likely with no warranty implied or otherwise. The oversight of the certificate of occupancy is another area where you may have recourse with the developer although I suspect the developer created an LLC and is likely out of business at the completion of the project and final sale of the condo. That leaves the current owners as the likely suspects to have to foot the bill for repairs and ascertaining a certificate of occupancy. The only advice I would have for you at this point is to speak to your own attorney and discuss what possible legal remedies might be available to you and the practicality of spending more money to try and get back some of the construction defect repair money that will need to be spent. I wish you good luck and I hope there is a buyer for your home.