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Subject: How to divide repair cost for damage
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AllgemeinG
(California)

Posts:7


04/21/2013 11:25 AM  
I'm the treasurer in our HOA. Got a trouble with an owner. Hope you experts can help me on this problem.

One of the owner had plumbing problem in his toilet. Dirty water overflew from the toilet and damaged the wood floor near the bathroom. The damaged area is less than 1 square feet. I attached some photos he sent me, which to me is minor damage.

The owner called management company immediately. Our ex-President rejected management company to send contractor to repair, because he "wanted to see and decide whether the problem belonged to HOA". The ex-President never showed up. So the owner had his own plumber fixed the problem on the same day in the afternoon. The plumber said the problem was because of a big tree root stuck in the main sew line/pipe, which caused the flooding. He sent couple of pictures of the tree root. HOA approved to fully reimburse the repair cost $650 to the owner. HOA also admitted the fault of the President. (HOA kicked out the irresponsible ex-President soon in the election.)

By the way, another two units had flooding problems too. But since they both had tiles, they didn't claim any damage.

Now the owner asked HOA to replace the whole wood floor in his living room, about 300 square feet. HOA agreed to pay for replacement of the damaged area only. The owner insisted that the new floor won't match the old floor, which was not acceptable and contractor couldn't do it. The owner and his wife have been bothering the Board members and management company every day, calling our photos, knocking the door, blaming and complaining with very bad attitude.

Just want to mention how ridiculous it is. The owner just ran for the President of the HOA and he got elected this month. Now in the Board meeting, he is against the HOA as a President. He even threatened us that he would have a lawyer and bring the HOA to the court.

In the Board meeting, we got most votes to pay only partial cost to replace his whole floor. I would say 50/50. But other Board members wanted to give him some courtesy and agreed to pay 3/4 ($825) and he would pay only 1/4 ($275). But he still insisted HOA to pay the full amount, despite that we told him we just had a re-roof project and we didn't have much money left. After he rejected our proposal, he and his wife kept bothering us again, trying to let us change mind, again in a very bad attitude.

Please help! In this case, should HOA pay the full amount to replace his whole wood floor? If not, how much should we pay? Since he rejected our offer, if we don't need to pay 3/4, we would be very happy to change our mind and reduce the percentage.

Thank you very much in advance!!!


Attachment: 1421253788071.pdf
Attachment: 1421253841154.pdf

MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


04/21/2013 12:33 PM  
This appears to be wood laminate flooring, which I have some experience with only as a homeowner. My home has similar damage caused by a leaky roof. (Both the roof and the floor were done by the previous owner.)

The nature of this product is that replacing damaged areas and leaving the undamaged areas intact is nearly impossible. First, you have to find an exact match for the original. Assuming that you can do that, then you would have to take up the entire floor (or most of it, anyway) to remove the old pieces and install the new ones. The labor to repair this floor will be about the same as it would be to replace the entire floor.

The above assumes that this is a snap-together type floor. If the joints are glued together, the chances of repair are about zero.

I saw no mention in your OP about your board having consulted a licensed contractor before deciding against paying for the damages. I think your board stinks as you are making a business decision based on a personal vendetta against a member and not based on any actual estimates of the cost to repair the damage.

Suppose he takes you to court; what would be your defense? "Your Honor, Yes our neglience caused the damage and No we did not bother to consult a licensed contractor to get an estimate of repairs but we should not have to pay because we do not like the homeowner." You may to want consult your insurance agent to see if you are covered against your own intentional acts.

SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3362


04/21/2013 1:26 PM  
The tree root was nature being nature. No ones fault. It's likely the root issue costs falls on the HOA.

Typically, the HOA would never cover the costs of repairing his unit. Especially something like this. If this were my HOA, I would tell him we will cover the plumbing cost, because the plumbing line is common area, but he is responsible for any damage in the unit himself. He should contact his insurance company.

Now I haven't seen your CCR/Bylaws, but this is how it typically works.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3362


04/21/2013 1:28 PM  
Please help! In this case, should HOA pay the full amount to replace his whole wood floor?


If the HOA is not legally responsible to fix things inside his unit, then no, you should not pay anything. It's an insurance issue. If he doesn't have insurance, tough luck. Buy insurance.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8601


04/21/2013 1:34 PM  
This should have been an insurance claim on the owners side. The HOA does NOT own the property. If it is a condo situation then read the rules about outside walls and pipes. Each condo is different. The owner should have his insurance to contact the HOA insurance to work out a deal.

Let us break this down some more. A HOA is ONLY funded by its members for its members. So when it was decided to pay for the repairs it came from all your dues. Which is where this issues truly lie. Do you think this is something all your dues should be used to fix or is it a home owner issue? Non matching floor is asthetic. A damaged floor from a leaking pipe or ceiling deserves a good look at who should pay. Most likely damage is HOA/insurance involved. Asthetic issues are the owners.

Remember suing you HOA is suing yourself and your neighbors. His threat to sue has to come from his dime. The HOA attorney will be the one representing the HOA. So he can not use the HOA lawyer.

Former HOA President
MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


04/21/2013 2:19 PM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 04/21/2013 1:26 PM
The tree root was nature being nature. No ones fault. It's likely the root issue costs falls on the HOA.

Typically, the HOA would never cover the costs of repairing his unit. Especially something like this. If this were my HOA, I would tell him we will cover the plumbing cost, because the plumbing line is common area, but he is responsible for any damage in the unit himself. He should contact his insurance company.

Now I haven't seen your CCR/Bylaws, but this is how it typically works.





Posted By SteveM9 on 04/21/2013 1:28 PM
If the HOA is not legally responsible to fix things inside his unit, then no, you should not pay anything. It's an insurance issue. If he doesn't have insurance, tough luck. Buy insurance.




Yes, trees do grow into sewer pipes. If you have a pipe and a tree nearby, eventually you will have a tree root in the pipe. That is why sewer pipes should be inspected with a camera from time to time.

These roots did not just magically appear one afternoon. They had been working their way into the pipe for years. The damage to the pipes was both dectectable and the damage to the home was preventable. The HOA chose not to inspect the pipes and waited for a major back-up before acting.

Normally the association would not be liable for damage inside the walls unless the association is the cause of the damage. In this case, the homeowner was the innocent bystander to the association’s negligent failure to inspect and remedy the plumbing issue. The association can foot the bill now or go to court and lose.

Do not forget that the board has already admitted to their liability by offering to pay three-fourths of the damages.

SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3362


04/21/2013 6:01 PM  
These roots did not just magically appear one afternoon. They had been working their way into the pipe for years. The damage to the pipes was both dectectable and the damage to the home was preventable. The HOA chose not to inspect the pipes and waited for a major back-up before acting.


Typically people do not do sewer inspections unless there was a problem.

Normally the association would not be liable for damage inside the walls unless the association is the cause of the damage. In this case, the homeowner was the innocent bystander to the association’s negligent failure to inspect and remedy the plumbing issue. The association can foot the bill now or go to court and lose.


If there was never a sewer or tree issue , there would never be a need to inspect. Many sewers go forever without issues. We don't test for radioactivity at our HOA, because there has never been an issue.

Do not forget that the board has already admitted to their liability by offering to pay three-fourths of the damages.


They didn't admit fault, they admitted they wanted to pay. They can simply say we made a mistake, according to our bylaws/ccr we cannot pay. Sorry.
MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


04/22/2013 1:15 AM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 04/21/2013 6:01 PM

Typically people do not do sewer inspections unless there was a problem.



As I said before, if you have trees and a pipe, sooner or later you will have tree roots inside the pipe. That is foreseeable and a simple camera-down-the-pipe inspection would have revealed it. Any experienced property owner or property manager should know the potential problem and periodically checked for it. The board had a fiduciary duty to the property owners to ensure that the plumbing was sound and they failed badly in this case.

Also, as I said before, this problem did not occur in one afternoon. Residents, including the board members, would have plenty of warning of a problem because the drains would have slowed noticeably long before the pipe was completely blocked. This board should have been aware of the problem months before the the flood.


Posted By SteveM9 on 04/21/2013 6:01 PM

If there was never a sewer or tree issue , there would never be a need to inspect. Many sewers go forever without issues.



See above. The problem would have been there for some time but the board failed to act.

You suggest that the board should just roll the dice instead of inspect; take their chances. If you are going to advocate taking chances, then why not send the board members off to the nearest casino with the reserve funds? Not much difference; gambling is gambling. Sewer pipes and reserve funds are just different kinds of community assets, so what is the difference?


Posted By SteveM9 on 04/21/2013 6:01 PM

They didn't admit fault, they admitted they wanted to pay. They can simply say we made a mistake, according to our bylaws/ccr we cannot pay. Sorry.



"Well, yes, Your Honor. We did fail to inspect the pipes. And, yes, the sewer backed up because we let the problem go until it flooded three units, including the plaintiff's. And, yes, we did offer to pay the plaintiff a part of his damages without getting a single bid from a licensed contractor. But that was a mistake! We really did not mean to do that. Your Honor, it's not like we are bunch of negligent idiots or nuthing like that."

SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3362


04/22/2013 5:58 AM  
The judge will rule according to the law and what the HOA is legally responsible for. He doesn't care who said what and when.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8730


04/22/2013 8:29 AM  
All

Are you saying 3 units all had flooding caused by the same pipe backup?

Also what type construction? Does each unit's sewage pipe join to one pipe which then discharges to the main sewage system such as would exist in a multi unit building or does each units sewage pipe run to the main sewage system such as in a private home?

The "root" of the issue is who is responsible for the blockage.

My initial blush is the unit owner files against their own insurance policy then their insurance company would file against the HOA insurance policy. I expect the owner may have a deductible that will not even cover the damage so he is head hunting for someone to pay.

I say the BOD should not be paying anyone unless they wish to avoid any insurance claim against them.

One other thing All. You paint a pretty bleak picture of the association finances when you say ther association does not have a few hundred dollars. Your association may have bigger issues.



MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


04/22/2013 1:34 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 04/22/2013 8:29 AM

My initial blush is the unit owner files against their own insurance policy then their insurance company would file against the HOA insurance policy. I expect the owner may have a deductible that will not even cover the damage so he is head hunting for someone to pay.



The homeowner and/or his insurance company files a claim against the association to recover his/their loss. The association's insurance company responds by pointing out that the loss is within the policy's deductible limit so they do not pay but they then cancel the insurance because of the claim.



MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


04/22/2013 1:51 PM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 04/22/2013 5:58 AM
The judge will rule according to the law and what the HOA is legally responsible for. He doesn't care who said what and when.



The law gives a lot of weight to what people do and say, so the judge will care.

It is hard to dispute the association's liability after the board voted to pay a part of the homeowner's damages. The board has a fiduciary duty to use association funds for association business and it would be a gross breach of that duty to offer to pay a claim for which the association is not liable.

If this case went to to trial, the liability would be established by the association's offer to pay part of the damages. From what the OP stated, this partial payment was based on what the board members believed needed to be done without obtaining an estimate from even one licensed contractor. The trial would then become a question of how much is the association going to pay and not whether it is liable.

KevinK7
(Florida)

Posts:1343


04/22/2013 2:26 PM  
Where exactly is this root/tree?

I ask because I have had similar issues with my sewer in which there have been some root intrusion and the trees' root systems have effected the pitch of my main line making frequent cleanings necessary. I had one plumber come out who claimed the pipes were affected from the county side of the plumbing. I had the county come out and they sent in equipment to determine if it was the responsibility of the homeowner (me) or the county. This could help solve the question as to who's responsibility this is/

As for the interior damage, I would say that it would probably be best to replace the entire floor. It looks like laminate (I have similar water damage to my flooring) and replacing a section is extremely difficult, especially since the floors are typically designed to be interlocking so cutting out a small section and installing a new section would require cutting the locking sections of the boards. Also finding an exact match may be difficult. It is still possible to repair but it is more time consuming. I had done this in a small area of my house using extra pieces and it took forever to get the cuts exact and not noticeable when completed.

SamE2
(New Jersey)

Posts:162


10/03/2019 12:04 PM  
Have you called your insurance agent and asked what they think the HOA is reponsible for? I don't think you are responsible for any of it (I agree with SAteve) but if you are willing to pay for something I don't think $300 is worth fighting over. Give him the $1100 or give him nothing and let let him do what he will.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:459


10/03/2019 1:13 PM  
This is an old thread. Several of them have popped up to the top for some reason.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3234


10/03/2019 3:28 PM  
Spammers routinely re-activate old threads. Spammers are bottom-feeders and usually not very bright.
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