S.D. from Middlesex County, New Jersey writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
There was Carbon Monoxide in the utility closet in the balcony of my Condo & the neighbor’s unit below due to a bird’s nest in the rooftop chimney stack. The property manager supported by the HOA lawyer wrote us a letter that we are responsible to pay for the cleanup. There is no mention in our By-Laws or Resolutions of owners being responsible to inspect and clean the rooftop chimney stacks like there is for Dryer Vent Cleaning. Do we have any recourse or do we have to pay up?
Mister Condo replies:
S.D., since I am not an attorney, I can offer no legal advice in this column. You should seek the advice of an attorney if you need a legal opinion. I will say that just because governing documents are silent on a subject doesn’t dictate whether an owner or the association is responsible for an expense. It would appear that the chimney stack is a limited common element used exclusively by you and your neighbor. It would follow that the two of you are the only beneficiaries of the stack and are, therefore, responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. I am not sure how expensive the bill is for the cleanup of the chimney stack but I would think that this isn’t a legal battle you wish to pay for as it is likely far less expensive to pay for the cleanup than to bring suit against the association. Good luck!