M.T. from South Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I’m currently living on the second floor of a 5-story condo building in South Florida. I travel a lot for work being that I work for an airline, so I’m rarely ever home more than 10 days a month. I’ve come home numerous occasions after a 3 or 4 day trip only to find that my kitchen floors are flooded with water due to water backing up in the main water pipes inside the walls of the building. I’ve noticed debris that has settled on my kitchen sink, from something that has somehow come up the kitchen sinks drains. I’m rarely home when this happens but I see the remaining filth on and in the sinks sides after whatever has come up, is sucked back down the drain.
The other day while I was sleeping I heard a gurgling noise coming from my half bath and my guest bathroom. I went in to check what was making the noise. I was shocked to witness human waste, roaches and roach eggs coming up the half bath’s toilet, my guest bathroom’s toilet and the guest bathroom’s shower drain. The toilets would’ve over flowed had I not acted quickly and started using a plunger.
I don’t know if this is occurring in other units or to other unit owners in my building? I’ve made the condo board and the building manager aware of the situation but it seems as though my complaints fall on deaf ears.
What can I do to protect myself and my property? Should I contact my local or state Sanitation Dept. and report these incidents? Should I contact the Health Dept.? I’m at the end of my rope and don’t know what to do! I’m simply frustrated and disgusted. What can I do to make the condo board take action and remedy the situation?
Mister Condo replies:
M.T., human waste and roaches aside, what a terrible situation! Add in the human waste, roaches and roach eggs and I think you have the makings of a Sci-Fi Channel Horror Film! Pardon my silliness as what you are describing is anything but silly. In fact, it is downright disgusting and dangerous.
Clearly the pipes and plumbing that runs in your walls and between your neighbor’s units is not functioning properly and is the responsibility of the association, as governed by the Board of Directors. Further, Florida state law does require that the condominium be free of “sanitary nuisance”, which yours is clearly not. The Florida Department of Health (http://www.floridahealth.gov/) is likely going to be your biggest ally in getting “deaf ears” to take your complaint seriously. There are links to contact them at their website. You can read the text of the law here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/Chapter386/All.
I am disappointed to hear that your Board and Property Manager aren’t more proactive on this issue. If word of this gets out, I would think property values could plummet. Not that you want that kind of publicity but a quick phone call to your local TV station or newspaper would likely draw a great deal of unwanted attention to the folks who should be taking corrective action. I would keep that piece of ammunition in my back pocket if they don’t move quickly to remedy the vermin infestation.
Finally, seeing as you travel quite frequently, you might want to either hire an attorney to represent you while you are away or work closely with neighbors who are almost assuredly facing the same issues. The Florida Department of Health claims they need to hear three complaints before they can take action. Be sure you mobilize a few neighbors to back your claim. These folks are likely not away as often as you are and might do a better job of applying ongoing pressure to the Department of Health, the association, and the Property Manager to get this sanitary nuisance cleared up as soon as possible. Good luck!