What are the responsibilities of a condo association? This reader says rodents are all over the property but the homeowners association board won’t act.

Q: Are there laws that govern rodent control for condos? 

My neighbor feeds birds 50 pounds of bird food at a time and now I have squirrels in my unit. Mice and chipmunks are everywhere and there are root-eating vermin in the ground. My homeowners association refuses to do anything about it. 

We are a 55-plus self-managed community. I paid an exterminator $300 last year to help me control the problem but he explained that the entire complex has to be treated to eliminate the issue. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated for our 30-unit homeowners association.

A: We don’t understand why the condominium association board refuses to take action. If what you describe is correct, you have an infestation of rodents in and around your building, which is a health hazard for all residents. 

What Are the Responsibilities of a Condo Association?

We’re pretty sure that the governing documents for the condo association require it to keep and maintain the property in good condition. Part of the duties the condo association board of directors or property managers have is to make sure that the building’s common elements are maintained. The grounds of the property are considered to be part of the common elements that they must keep in good shape.

Some governing documents should specifically mention that the condo association will take care of rodent and other infestations. What if you had a termite or other wood-boring pest infestation? You’d rightly expect the condo association to take care of that problem, for the good of the entire community. 

(Let us just add the caveat that many condo associations have the obligation to maintain everything but the interior space of the condominium units and others may leave some of the repairs to the unit owners. The governing documents will detail the obligations for unit owners and the association.)

What Happens When a Condo Association Board Fails to Address an Issue?

We think that an issue like the one you describe, that can (and does) affect multiple units should be addressed by the condo association. We’re aware that some homeowners may consider some birds, chipmunks and squirrels to be part of the landscape and the cost of living in most places. But not when they’re in your attic, walls, and basement.

Several years ago, Sam put out a bird feeder and quickly found that there were quite a number of squirrels who figured out how to get at the birdfeed. It wound up attracting more squirrels and chipmunks than birds. 

So, how do you get the condo association to take action? You can document the damage being caused to your unit and the larger property with photos and video. You can consult with your exterminator, who can provide a written opinion to the condo board or property manager that testifies to the problem. And lastly, you can reach out to your city or village animal control department to see if they view the issue as a growing health hazard. 

The more information you have the more likely you can convince the board that something must be done, if something needs to be done. Having said that, these people are your neighbors, and unless the situation is urgent, you’ll need to help them understand the growing nature of the problem so you win their help in fixing this for the long run. 

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