HOA Didn’t Repair Air Conditioner: Now What?

Homeowner contacted HOA to repair a leaking air conditioner drainage line but it still hasn’t happened.

Q: My homeowners association (HOA) agreed to fix a leaky air conditioning drainage line that ran between floors. It causes flooding in my unit every summer. They set up a repair date but eventually canceled the work. Like clockwork, my place flooded again while I was out of town.

Turns out they didn’t do the work because of fear of asbestos. They never told me they didn’t do the work and I assumed they finally fixed the problem. This same leak has happened again and again. As for the asbestos, I had it removed years ago when it was disturbed by this same problem. What can I do?

Common Homeowner Association (HOA) problems

A: From where we sit, it’s hard for us to judge why your homeowners association hasn’t repaired your leaky air conditioning drainage problem. Certainly, it’s not fair to you to have to deal with the water issues constantly. You should expect that your HOA will take care of the issue – especially since it agreed to, and actually set a date for the repair.

Asbestos continues to scare a lot of people. When wrapped or contained appropriately, asbestos shouldn’t cause a health issue. The danger is when the fibers become airborne and are ingested.

So, we get why the HOA might be worried, especially if asbestos has been found in other parts of the building. But you said you removed your asbestos. Have you told that to your HOA or the property manager? It’s possible that while you removed your asbestos, the association might have to deal with the asbestos issue elsewhere while they fix your water issue. As you know, asbestos removal can add significantly to the cost of a repair.

You mentioned that your unit “floods.” Is that word choice appropriate? There’s a big difference between a water leak and a flood. If you came home and sloshed around in a foot of water, that’s a huge problem compared with a small, intermittent drip down a wall.

Both issues cause damage. True enough. But one is far more annoying and dangerous. If you haven’t already, you might want to show photos and video of the damage to the HOA so the board understands just how much water is involved. And, how much you pay each year to remediate the damage.

Our recommendation is to talk to your association again. Calmly. Stress that the water problem they agreed to fix should be addressed as soon as possible. Make sure they understand you have already removed the asbestos in your unit. (If you have paperwork proving that, make sure you show it to them.)

You might also ask what alternatives are available for draining the air conditioning units that would eliminate the water problem for you and avoid dealing with any lingering asbestos issues.

As we write this, we’re trying to imagine why your HOA canceled your work. We wonder if, in investigating your issue, they found a much bigger and more expensive structural issue. Maybe some of your neighbors are also experiencing the issue. Maybe they’re deciding whether to undertake a major asbestos abatement project.

Depending on the size and age of your building and the cost to fix that problem, the HOA might have decided to wait and spend more time coming up with the right solution. It’s also possible the true cost of the repair is so large, a special assessment would need to be imposed. This could also account for the delay.

Your best bet is to talk to a human being about what’s going on. Schedule a meeting with the manager for your association or the HOA board. Try to find out whether misinformation about asbestos is at the root of the problem or if there is a larger, more serious issue the board is trying to resolve.

Once you have all this information, you can decide whether the HOA is delaying a response unnecessarily or are nearing a solution to your problem.

If you get nothing from the association and the problem continues, you may have to consult with an attorney who focuses their practice on community association issues. With the attorney’s help, you may then be able to resolve your issues with the HOA.

©2024 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. C1634

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