R.C. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I just purchased my condo a few months ago. There were laminate floors already installed by the previous owner on the first floor. I live alone and I am only there on nights and weekends. The neighbor below me complains about everything from the slightest noise, even walking and closing exterior doors. He reported me to the condo board for being in violation by having the laminate floors. The condo rules state that you need approval to install wood floors on the first floor. What are my rights seeing that the floors were already installed by the previous owner?
Mister Condo replies:
R.C., I can imagine your surprise to find out that the existing floors in your new condo were installed against condo rules. The condo Board is right to seek remedy and bring your unit into compliance with architectural building standards. However, you may have recourse against the previous owner since they created a defective product when they improperly installed the laminate flooring. You should seek legal counsel at once to help guide you through this process although I am quite certain that you will need to replace the laminate flooring with carpet or whatever flooring material deemed acceptable in the condo documents that detail your flooring choices. Alternatively, if you, your neighbor, and the Board were in agreement, you might be able to solve the problem by installing area rugs atop the laminate. That would offer noise protection for your neighbor and save you the cost of floor replacement. However, I wouldn’t be too hopeful for that outcome. The condo Board’s primary responsibility in this situation is to maintain building standards. Allowing one unit to deviate creates a slippery slope for future compliance issues. I am sorry for your problems and wish you all the best in a satisfactory recovery.