K.J. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
The property management company sent a letter in October of 2011 about window replacement. The letter details the price that the Board has negotiated and contracted with a company. The letter required unit owners to pay a down payment for window replacement to be scheduled and balance to be paid in full after work is done. The letter also says that the Board expects all windows to be replaced by December of 2012. The letter does not contain any “subject to change” info. After saving up quite the sizable amount, I sent in my check to the Property Management Company as instructed. The Property Management Company returned my check along with a letter saying that they are returning my check for 2 reasons. First, the windows now cost more – $150 additional. Second, full payment must be sent in before work is to start. No other letter or notice about window replacement has been sent from the first letter to this most recent one. If our board has indeed negotiated and contracted with a vendor, shouldn’t price remain the same and unit owners protected? If there are changes, shouldn’t there be a notice sent out first? What are my options? Thanks.
Mister Condo replies:
K.J., it sounds like your community is suffering from poor communications between Board, Property Manager, and unit owners. That can really sour the condo living experience. I am not an attorney so I cannot comment on your true legal rights here but I can offer some common sense.
You have the right to request a copy of the negotiated agreement between the condo association and the window replacement vendor. Contact the Property Manager and request a copy of the agreement. My guess is that you’ll see what the proposed pricing was back in October of 2011. More than a year later, it is not uncommon for prices to have increased but if the contractor committed to a firm price that would not change until the job is completed, you may have a legal leg to challenge the new price. Unfortunately, the only damage to you is $150. I don’t know of too many lawsuits for such a small sum. I would ask politely that the price be honored. The same holds true for the deposit up front versus paying in full at the time of order. It is unusual to pay 100% of the job upfront as it gives the buyer no recourse if the work is performed unsatisfactorily.
As for the communication issue between all of the players involved – Board, Property Manager, Unit owners, Contractor – I have a suggestion. All of this confusion could have been avoided by simply keeping all parties informed. You did what you were told to the best of your abilities. The Board and the Property Manager failed to inform you of changes that the Contractor made to the initial agreement. A simple update letter or mention of this issue in a community newsletter could have cleared up all of this confusion in advance. Instead, you are left with a bad feeling about the contractor and your community before your new windows are even installed. That’s too bad because I believe everyone involved in this project had the best intentions in mind when the project began. New windows can save you money in fuel costs and will definitely improve your condo’s appearance. I hope you can get past the bitterness of how the purchase went down so that you can enjoy the sweetness of how awesome your new windows will look and perform. Hopefully, your Board and Property Manager will learn from this experience and do a better job communicating future projects with residents.