Q: My neighbors sent an e-mail to the management company complaining about a water leak in their master bedroom’s bath ceiling.
They told the management company that they had spoken to me. They said that we had agreed that the leak was coming from my unit. They told the management company that I had immediately contacted a plumber to assess the problem but that no work was ever started.
The neighbor’s e-mail also asked the association if the leak was caused by the main pipe and if it was the responsibility of the association to repair the pipe. The plumber gave my neighbor an estimate of $600 to $700 to repair the leak, not including the service call and the opening of the ceiling, which would cost an additional $165. The plumber also told them that the charges do not include the closing of the ceiling.
Unfortunately, the e-mail that the neighbor sent to the association is filled with falsehoods. We never agreed that the source of the leak was coming from my unit. When we were informed by our neighbor that they had a few bubbles in their bath ceiling, we went downstairs and looked at the bath ceiling.
Concerned that there was a leak and we may be the source of the leak, I called a plumber. The plumber checked for leaks in our bath. They checked the tub, shower head and tub spout, all around the toilet and inside the toilet. They also checked to make sure that the toilet was not loose. We were told by the plumber that we were not the source of the leak and that there were no problems.
We went downstairs with the plumber to listen to what the neighbors were told and to tell them ourselves that we were not the source of the leak.
Our plumber also told them that our unit was not the source of their leak. Our plumber told them that the leak was probably coming from one of their pipes. They were given an estimate. I find it troubling that they did not take any action. They could have called other plumbers for additional estimates.
If my neighbors had told me that they were not the source of the problem and that a plumber confirmed this, I would have again contacted my plumber to check my bath fixtures. Why would wait 12 days?
Recently, a plumbing company came to our condominium. This caught us by surprise as we had no notice. The association sent them. They were doing work around the community. The community has had water problems; i.e., bad pipes. He did replace the wax ring on the toilet. As far as I know, there are now no other problems in my unit.
The association sent us a letter that stated that we had been previously notified of the plumbing condition and that we were not in compliance.
The letter states that our account will be charged for maintenance and repair in the amount of $192.03. The letter set a hearing date with the board on this issue and the charge for the plumbing repair. Any advice would be appreciated.
A: The hearing notice indicates that you had been notified. You did not send me a copy of any warning letter from the association. If there was a first notice, you should have communicated back to the association informing them you had your plumber come to your home and check for water leaks.
If you did not receive a first notice from the association then you need to communicate this fact to the board at the hearing.
You will need to bring a copy of the invoice from your plumber to show to the association that you did respond to your neighbor’s complaint about the water spots in the downstairs bedroom. You also need to tell the board that you had no further knowledge of problem, as you neighbor did not communicate this to you.
The information that I received did not include a copy of the invoice from the association’s plumber, which totaled $192.03.
You need to have a copy of the invoice prior to the hearing. You should request a copy for the management company. If the plumber just replaced a wax ring on the toilet, the plumber’s charge appears to be quite out of line.
You should have your own plumber send you an estimate of what it would cost to replace a wax ring, just for comparison. If the your plumber has a much lower cost. Then the you need to communicate this fact at the hearing.
Generally speaking, an association would have to communicate first to the homeowner that it intends to send the plumber to the homeowner’s unit prior to the house call.
The association should have informed you of an estimate of cost for the house call. You said you did not receive such a letter even though the hearing notice refers to homeowner being previously notified.
You should not be fined for being in non-compliance, as you did take action. You were just was not informed that the problem continued.
As to the plumber’s bill, if the association can prove it sent you a warning letter prior to the plumber’s visit, then you will probably be responsible for the payment of the bill.
The only thing you can do is to try to have the bill reduced after showing that the association had been overcharged.
Barbara Holland, certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. Questions may be sent to Association Q. & A., P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Her fax number is 385-3759 or she can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.