Complaints against unresponsive homeowner associations

 
 
Updated 7/26/2020 9:14 AM

Q: I live in a condominium, and the homeowners association (HOA) has been unwilling to make any kind of repairs. The worst issue is drainage. Rain runoff for most of the property drains to the front of my unit. The result is extreme humidity, so that I have to run two dehumidifiers 24 hours a day. Also, moisture under the concrete slab is causing my wood flooring to warp and buckle. The contractor I called said the front of the property should be regraded to allow drainage away from the building, and rain gutters are needed on the roof. I've notified the HOA, but they just make excuses. What can I do to make them take responsibility for this problem?

A: Homeowners associations, all too often, are the subjects of complaints such as yours, involving indifference to property repairs. In most condo complexes, the owners of individual units are responsible for interior repairs, while everything else is HOA responsibility. The problem, in many instances, is getting an HOA to perform according to requirements in the documents known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R's).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

When it becomes necessary to take action against a obstinate HOA, the first step is to obtain a detailed inspection report from a qualified home inspector or specialty contractor. In your case, an inspection by a drainage specialist, such as a geotechnical engineer, would be advisable. The next step is to take the inspection reports to a real estate attorney to find out which defects the HOA can be compelled to repair, in accordance with the CC&R's.

Another approach is to form an alliance with other homeowners who are dissatisfied with the HOA. A unified opposition can be more persuasive than an individual complaint. Dissatisfied owners could begin attending board meetings, and some might consider replacing the current board members when terms of office expire. As a last resort, it might be possible to share legal expenses in a joint lawsuit against the HOA.

Q: My condo is built over an underground natural spring, and water keeps coming up through cracks in my basement floor. The HOA is aware of this and has tried several repairs, but nothing has worked. Now they want me, at my own expense, to seal the cracks in the floor to prevent water from coming up! I told them this would not fix the problem, but they won't listen. What can I do to make them fix this?

A: If water is percolating through cracks in the basement floor, no amount of sealant is going to correct the problem. What you have is a ground drainage situation that needs to be evaluated by a drainage expert, such as a geotechnical engineer. That is not a homeowner responsibility. It needs to be addressed by the HOA. They need to understand that this is not a patch and seal problem. If they won't listen, see if an attorney's letter will open their ears. To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com.

2020, Action Coast Publishing

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