Albert Moore, Attorney at Law

Should I Report A Dispute With My Neighbor To The Condo Association Prior To Filing A Lawsuit?

It’s possible but I figure, in most cases, it’s probably unlikely. It’s not going to cost a lot of time or cost a lot of money to attempt to go that route. Typically, these associations have a management company. Sometimes they have onsite managers, sometimes they have offsite managers and sometimes they are self-managed but if they have a property manager or property management company that handles it, it’s certainly not going to hurt to approach them and tell them the nature of the problem and see if they can contact the neighbor and see if maybe, as an intermediary, they can smooth the problem over. It’s not a bad idea to attempt that. However, if the neighbor is not receptive to the suggestions that the property manager or even the board of directors if it’s self-managed propose on behalf of the client that has the problem with the neighbor, then there is not a lot that the association can do.

If they are violating terms of the declaration of the rules and regulations, then they can be fined. Typically, foreclosure actions are reserved for non-payment of assessments and could be used in a very small percentage of other types of issues but typically there would be a fine that would be levied. There also might be some use restrictions that the association may be able to place on the offending party. But there is another issue and that is that the association typically doesn’t want to become involved in those issues because they have enough issues between themselves and unit owners or home owners, so to get involved in the middle of a dispute between two different unit owners is not their favorite manner of operating their association.

So I think that probably the more successful route is to have the person that feels that the neighbor is violating the rules in some way and because of that is impairing their ability to enjoy their unit to the fullest or their home to the fullest and it’s usually good to retain an attorney to see if you can take action directly against the offending owner without getting the association involved. As I stated before, it doesn’t cost a lot of money and a lot of effort to at least, try and get the association involved but I think the likelihood of succeeding on that is fairly slim. Not impossible but fairly slim.

I Found Mold In My Condo But My Association Has Not Responded To My Complaint. Should I File A Lawsuit Against The Condo Association?

That would be pretty immature. The first step that you would need to take is to hire a professional whether that be a general contractor or a contractor that deals specifically with mold issues and to have that person find the source of the, usually it’s a water issue. It’s either a leak or the humidity is such that it’s creating the mold. So find the source of that and once you find the source, we are back to an earlier question which was whose responsibility and obligation it would be. So if the source that is causing the mold is identified to be within the unit of a condominium, then the unit owner is going to be responsible. So if you were to have no idea where the mold is coming from and you just see mold and you file suit against the association, you are taking a pretty big risk there because you may have an expert, your own expert or the association’s expert that is hired within the litigation may say that the source of the mold is within the person’s individual unit.

If that’s the case, the responsibility is going to lie with the unit owner and then they are going to be responsible for the association’s attorney’s fees and costs in jumping the gun in determining whether or not it’s their obligation or the association’s obligation. I’ve had instances especially when you are dealing with multi-level units where there will be a vacant unit and there is a leak and then it causes mold in the unit below. So obviously it’s not the unit owner’s obligation that has the mold below but then the question becomes, is it the association’s obligation or is it the unit owner that owns the vacant unit that is going to be held responsible because it may be something that’s within their unit. So those kinds of issues are tricky and so the first thing to do would be to hire someone to find out where the actual source of the moisture is that is causing the mold.

Once you determine that, then you could go to an experienced attorney and the attorney could probably tell you where liability lies, whether it lies with the client that comes to see you, whether it lies with the association or whether it lies with some other unit owner that is adjacent, that has some type of leak or humidity or mold problem and it’s spread to the client’s unit.

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