S.M. from New Haven County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I noticed some damage to a common area that adjoins my condo. I contacted a contractor to come out and look at the job. The contractor refused to do the work but is now charging monies for trips out to unit. The management company wants me to pay the contractor bill. I don’t think that’s fair. What can I do?
Mister Condo replies:
S.M., I don’t have enough information to fully answer your question. Let me give you two scenarios and you can decide which one applies to you.
If you contacted the management company to complain about the damage to the common area and they contacted the contractor, then it would seem only reasonable that the association would pick up the bill for the job estimate, even if the contractor refused to do the work once they estimated the job. If you contacted the contractor directly and without the express authority of the Board and/or the management company, then I am afraid that you may be stuck with this bill. I hope the bill isn’t too high if that is the case.
Either way, I hope you will treat this experience as a learning opportunity. When you live in a condominium, it is important to realize that proximity to the common element does not affect responsibility. That is to say, common elements are maintained by the association exclusively. You should never hire anyone to do any work on the common elements. That is the responsibility of the Board or management company, acting on behalf of the association. They are the ones who negotiate, hire, and pay for maintaining the common elements.