D.D. from Jefferson County, Louisiana writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I recently bought a condo where the fireplace needed repair from the get go. It is a shared chimney shoot with the unit upstairs. It is two different individual fireplaces in one chimney. The association fixed a leak that was in the roof. It is because, I presume, that the previous owners or tenant did not report the leak to the association. The association did fix the roof prior to my moving in but have not fixed the fireplace. I’ve been getting mixed messages and a play on words. I need to know who is responsible for the fireplace getting fixed the damper is totally rusted shut on mine. I was asked to get my air condition man to come out because I did smell smoke coming through my air vents. He has said that it is likely there’s a pinhole in unit above mine’s fireplace’s shoot. When her fireplace is lit it does come through my vents. I have severe asthma. I had to ask her to turn her fireplace off on Christmas Eve and she has graciously not used it since but I can’t ask her to indefinitely stop using it.
Who is responsible for getting the fireplace fixed and who pays for the inspections? And I also need to know about a dryer vent that is 15 feet in the air. Who is responsible for cleaning out the dryer vent? Thanks, and have a great day!
Mister Condo replies:
D.D., I am sorry you are having such problems in your condo unit. Any elements that are commonly owned by the association are typically the responsibility of the association to maintain and repair. A shared chimney is a good example. The problem is the dragging of feet to get the association to make the repair. Keep in mind that they may need to get bids before awarding a contract and there may be other mitigating circumstances (no money in the budget for the repair, for instance) but that really isn’t an excuse to keep you waiting for months on end. The squeaky wheel often gets the grease in this situation. Your asthma, while unfortunate, may even be a further mitigating factor is motivating the association to act quickly. In writing, make your complaint loud and clear. Attend Board meetings to make sure the matter is discussed. Contact a local attorney to see what legal recourse might be available to you. Keep on top of the situation until it is resolved. As for the dryer vent, it is usually handled in one of two ways. The association may have a contract to have the vents cleaned every so often and bill back the unit owners or it may be that you will need to hire a dryer vent and duct cleaning company. They are plentiful and typically not too expensive. Ask your Board or Property Manager how to proceed with the duct cleaning. Your air conditioning guy might even offer the service. All the best!