Written by Attorney Michael T. Chulak
The most common claim made by the owners of condominium units against their homeowner associations is that their unit is experiencing water intrusion because the association has failed to maintain the common area. Generally, this involves leaking roofs, decks, planters, walls, and windows, and often improper slopes and drainage. When a condominium unit owner makes a claim against the association, it is generally because the statue of limitations has run and therefore a claim cannot be made against the developer of the condominium community.
When a condominium unit owner has exhausted his or her patience with the board and files a lawsuit against the association, (not the board), the association will almost always contact its insurance company. Assuming there is coverage, the insurance company will hire a law firm to represent the association and the law firm will hire any appropriate experts needed to investigate the situation and provide advice on how to remedy the problem.
As part of the process, the plaintiff’s attorney will hire one or more experts to provide advice and repair cost estimates.
After all experts have completed their investigations, have developed a scope of repairs, and cost estimates, a mediation session will be arranged so that the parties can avoid further litigation and settle the matter short of going to court. In 99% of these matters, the dispute is settled in mediation.
Settlements usually, but not always, consist of the following:
The association agrees to repair the common area in a manner that is acceptable to the expert working for the plaintiff’s attorney;
The association agrees to pay the plaintiff a dollar amount sufficient to make interior repairs and pay for loss of use; and
The association agrees to pay all of the plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs.
Most importantly, depending upon the insurance coverage, the cost of settling the case will be paid in part or completely by the insurance company.
If you are a member of an association board, don’t let this happen to your association. A competent management company combined with good legal advice can save your association thousands of dollars.
Call attorney Michael T. Chulak at 818-991-9019 or 800-565-2232 for a no cost initial consultation regarding any legal matter.