J.T. from Westchester County, New York writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I hope you can help me. I have 3 issues:
Issue 1: Last year a pipe burst in my kitchen (Condo’s responsibility); repairs and painting were approved per emails between myself, the Board VP and Managing Agent who were in place at that time; we agreed, via email, on an amount; a check was issued—within days we transitioned to a new Board and Managing Agent who then cancelled the check and notified me advising me not to cash it. Is that legal? Do I have any recourse?
Issue 2: Due to poor pointing and rusting lintels I sustained water damage in my bedroom and ceiling and rust spots on my new windows. Repair/replacement of lintels will commence in the Spring or Summer.
Note: Since 2007 I’ve had 3 separate times when I sustained water damage in my bedroom. Once it damaged the window and floor and they wouldn’t pay for the floor-which was a large expense. The other 2 times it damaged the window and blind. This was all due to poor pointing in the same location. I’ve learned from the pointing company that since 2007 reports advising pointing be maintained were sent to the Board and or Managing Agent. I’ve asked for copies of the reports from the pointing company (they are not permitted to send them to me) and from the Managing Agent, who hasn’t replied to my email requesting them. Am I entitled to see these reports?
I’ve been told that the Condo is responsible for repairs up to priming and I am responsible for painting.Isn’t the Condo responsible for the maintenance of the building both in (pipes) and out (pointing)? Therefore, since they haven’t kept up with the maintenance, shouldn’t they be responsible for the painting as well?I’ve asked Managing Agent to send me copies of By Laws’ sections pertaining to Condo’s and Unit Owners responsibilities. To date, I only received the Section of the By-Laws pertaining to Unit Owners Responsibility.
Issue 3: Two weeks ago, a pipe burst causing water damage to the walls on the outside and inside of my bathroom; as well as damaging a section of the wood floor (bulging from water). Management has not addressed the floor issue. Isn’t the Condo responsible for fixing the floor? I appreciate any advice you can give me.Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
J.T., I am sorry for your ongoing problems with your condo, your condo manager, and your Board. These are serious problems and require serious attention. Instead of addressing each issue individually, let me give you some friendly advice. You need to read and understand your governance documents to fully appreciate what responsibilities are yours and what responsibilities are those of the association. The botched repayment issue is a great example of neither party truly understanding who is responsible for what. I assume you have adequate homeowner’s insurance. If you don’t, be sure to get it and keep it paid up. Damage that occurs inside of your unit should be covered by your homeowner’s policy, regardless of the cause. Your insurer may seek remediation from your association if there is a case to be made for delinquent care or negligence on the part of the association. Finally, speak with an attorney to determine what, if any, actions you may have against your association if they have failed to properly maintain the association’s common elements as called for in the governance documents. My guess is that you live in an older building that hasn’t properly collected enough money to address all of these problems. Properly maintained pipes can still burst but it is not common to have so many problems repeatedly surface over and over. The association may need to raise fees, take out an HOA loan, or levy a Special Assessment to get the money it needs to make the remedies. Of course, all of that responsibility falls on the Board, a group of volunteer leaders from among your fellow unit owners. It is a difficult job to provide the stewardship needed for the condo’s future well-being and some difficult decisions will have to be made. As for your own well-being and safety, keep an eye on what happens next. If nothing happens to prevent future water breaks, you can expect more of the same. If it were me, I would strongly consider selling and moving into a better maintained association. All the best!