K.O. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
The condo attached to my mother’s has been abandoned for about 15 years. The roof has a hole in it that a large TV would fit down. The water damage is now going into her condo. She had about a square foot of ceiling collapse the other day. She keeps trying to contact the owners but they will not respond. She has also contacted the HOA and they are doing nothing about it. She doesn’t have homeowners insurance. What should her next step be?
Mister Condo replies:
K.O., thank you for writing and I apologize for the length of time it takes to reply to questions. We only have the volunteer capacity to handle one question per day (Monday through Friday) and they are handled on a “first come, first served” basis.
It is unusual for a condo to be abandoned for 15 years. It is also unusual for a unit owner to not have homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance is not only a good idea, it is often required by the association that individual unit owners keep a policy in place to assist in potential claims that the association is not liable for. I am not sure what your by-laws require or what your state laws have to say on the matter.
That being said, the roof of the neighboring unit is very likely the responsibility of the association unless your governing documents read otherwise. If it can be proved that the negligence on the roof repair of the neighboring unit is that caused for the damage to your mother’s unit, you may have an action against the association. If your mother had a homeowner’s insurance policy in place at the time of the incident, it is possible that the insurance would have covered interior damage to your mother’s unit. However, with no insurance in place the expense may fall upon her as owner and she may be able to sue the association for causing the damage from neglect of proper upkeep on the roof of the neighboring unit.
My advice is that you speak with an attorney and see what local laws are in your favor and how much a lawsuit will cost as opposed to simply paying for the repair. Also, I would immediately purchase homeowner’s insurance to help pay for possible future water intrusion events. If the association does not repair the neighboring roof in timely fashion it is quite possible your mother will experience further loss. Insurance won’t prevent that but it should help mitigate the cost of cleanup efforts. All the best!