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updated: 5/25/2012 6:36 PM

Home inspector: Homeowners association won't repair property

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Q. For the past six years, the board of directors of our condo association has been dragging their feet on major repairs, including water damage and mold. Each homeowner has been assessed an additional $3,600 in the past two years, yet nothing gets done. We would like to sell our unit, but until these repairs are completed, this may be impossible. What, if anything, can be done to get the HOA to act?

A. Your condo association may be overdue for new leadership. In the meantime, members of the community should assert themselves. Since the unrepaired defects affect a number of the owners, and since all residents have been assessed thousands of dollars for repairs, a joint demand for immediate repairwork seems reasonable.

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The HOA should provide an accounting of the moneys that have been collected, as well as specific plans for making repairs. If the HOA has sufficient funds in the account, it is time to hire contractors or to set specific dates when repairs will commence. If the board continues to delay, homeowners should hire an attorney to address them in a more convincing manner. Perhaps there should be a general meeting of all owners, rather than a closed meeting of the board. Talk this over with your neighbors and see if they are willing to take a stand.

Q. Before buying our home, we asked our home inspector about the black mold on the bedroom walls. He said we should remove it with bleach solution before repainting. Since then, we've learned that the mold is probably inside the walls as well and that the drywall should be replaced. If our inspector had told this to us, we would have asked the seller to make the repairs. What do you think about our inspector's advice?

A. Home inspectors should not advise buyers about methods of mold removal. Environmental hazards such as mold are actually outside the scope of a standard visual inspection. However, when home inspectors see evidence of possible mold infection, they should recommend consulting a mold expert for further evaluation. If your inspector gave you advice regarding mold removal, he overstepped the limits of his profession.

Q. Roots have been getting into the main sewer line in our front yard. The only nearby tree belongs to our neighbor, and he definitely wants to keep it. Our plumber says the roots will eventually do major damage to the line. If we sell the home, this will probably have to be disclosed to buyers. Is there any way to solve this problem?

A. The solution involves some hard work but is actually quite simple. The tree roots that grow toward the sewer line should be cut as close to the property line as possible. If you can dig a trench along the fence line, all of the roots that cross the trench can be severed. Before refilling the trench, ask the people at your local nursery about products you can bury that will retard root growth in the direction of your sewer line.

• Email questions to Barry Stone through his website, housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

Distributed by Action Coast Publishing

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