C.D. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
My niece owns an upstairs condo unit. Recently, the bottom unit was flooded by rain to the point of 6′ high. The area has been declared a national disaster area and FEMA is processing claims. My niece’s unit has mold growing up her walls and her floor is buckling due to the flood. The owner of the downstairs unit started working to rid his unit of mold, mildew, etc. but stopped for some unknown reason. FEMA has told my niece that her unit is a health hazard and needs to be vacated immediately. Here’s the kicker: They tell her they cannot help her as had the downstairs owner took care of his condo, her condo wouldn’t have felt any effects of the flood. What say you?
Mister Condo replies:
C.D., I am truly sorry your niece’s condo unit was flooded and damaged. Unfortunately, it would appear we live in a time of escalating natural disasters and many condos around the country have been impacted this past year. How a community association or HOA responds to these disasters can be just as damaging as the disasters themselves. Clearly, your niece has suffered a catastrophic loss here and it sounds like the HOA isn’t doing right by her. This could be because they aren’t familiar with how they should handle this disaster or they may not know where to turn to get the money to make the repairs or there may just be confusion caused by insurance companies or poorly written condo docs. It may be that the downstairs neighbor is also to blame and may be sued as well as part of the money recovery efforts. Whatever the reason, my next call would be to my attorney as this doesn’t look like it will be settled by simply asking the association to make the repairs. Also, if your niece has adequate homeowners’ insurance, she might be eligible for housing costs while the repairs are made. Clearly, she should not reside in a mold-infested unit. This is going to take a while to sort out but I am sure she will get the problem addressed once legal action is taken. Good luck!