B.R. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Can a condo HOA force me to use their maintenance person as a contractor to repair something inside my own unit? I have a problem in the basement with moisture on the wall. It is not clear whether it is coming from my unit, another unit, or a common element. It’s not a very big spot, but I am concerned that it be repaired correctly and safely as to not create a bigger problem. I’d prefer to hire a licensed contractor that I trust to investigate the problem. The HOA keeps acting like they can tell me I can’t do this or that I need some sort of approval unless I use their person. It is my understanding that as long as my investigation/repair doesn’t involve something clearly indicated as a common element, they really have no say in this? Am I mistaken?
Mister Condo replies:
B.R., determining who has ownership of the basement and all of the components that go into a basement within an HOA can be challenging. Does your basement abut to a neighbor’s basement where you share a wall? Do common utilities run through your basement? Do you have a sump pump that dries more than your unit? Depending on the nature of the work being done, it is possible that the HOA does not have a say other than to require you to provide a license and proof of insurance for the contractor before work begins. Sometimes, it is just simpler to use their preferred contractor because the contractor has inside knowledge of how the buildings were built and how they run best. Your water spot may be something their contractor has seen a dozen times and knows what the likely culprit and remedy are. In that case, they HOA may actually be doing you a favor by having you use their contractor. One final caveat is to review your HOA governance documents. It should spell out when you need to use an association-approved contractor. My final piece of advice is just practical. If this is not a very big spot and likely a small repair, if any, why not just go with the HOA’s suggested contractor? I can’t imagine this is going to be a very big deal one way or the other. Hope it all works out for you.