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Roof leaksMar 01, 2012

My roof was not pitched correctly by the sponsor/developer and the board has taken numerous years to address this problem. I am patiently waiting to fix my ceiling which is a bit of an eye soar and I have a light fixture when it rains very hard I get water in the fixture. It's been over 5 years since I've addressed this to the board & management company and I've requested in writing after they decide on the engineer that I want a scope of services in writing indicating they repair my ceiling. I have had NO response about this from the managing agent or the board. Should I have a lawyer write a ltr on my behalf? Any suggestions?

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Roofs - Steve-Inwood Mar 02, 2012

You are a patient person.

I would get a lawyer. Be careful though, the co-op’s legal fees can end up on your maintenance bill. As a result, I would have the lawyer write a letter first asking about the status of the repairs/re-pitch. Then if you got no reply, I would take them to court.

Don't go cheap on the lawyer - use an experienced real estate law firm too. Finally, hire a housing inspector and check for damage to electrical or mold issues. You would want to know those issues going in.

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Lawyer for roof repair - dsi Mar 06, 2012

Five years is still five years, with little or no communication, resolution, plan or remedial action. As a Board President I can tell you that it doesn't take anywhere near that long - (assuming the worst scenario - a very complex and expensive engineering/architectural issue which would take us (3-4 Board + good management Co.) 3 months for a report and 1-3 months for a final plan of action given reasonable scale of issues. It could be 9 months if larger and 1.5 years if very, very large -maybe; remember that the larger the scale of issue the larger the team you apply in managing and coordinating the engineering, facilities committee proposal review and report, financial solutions (paid out of reserves, refi, line of credit, phased assessment, finite term maintenance surcharge etc.) and communicating it to your shareholders); to solicit, select, and hire a consulting Engineer/Firm to analyze and issue a report, establish choices and plan(s) of action based on the Coop's finances, and put a capital project, funded one way or another into play, or at the very least find a temporary remediation to protect the property while moving forward at a slower pace due to complexity, or financial reasons. One of the things that would concern me is the collateral damage: rot, infrastructural damage, and potential mold issues over five years of nothing. While I agree with Michele that there are possibly many complicating issues potentially involved, the biggest issue by far is the lack of decisive planning and action to protect the property and keep a shareholder(s) informed. This is a failure of leadership, a freeze up due to being out of their depth and not making any decisions, a definite failure on the part of the Management Co. to stay on top of critical issues, or maybe they are moving and have failed utterly in their responsibility to keep affected shareholders informed. How many election cycles have come and gone by with no word, no action, no posted solution? May is coming and that is annual meeting season for many coops. A good time to publicly demand some answers. Why not start doing some committee volunteer work or run for the Board, get involved? Steve is right, get a good Coop RE attorney, and do a letter, try not to go it alone, however there is a potential negligence issue that they can work with as well due to the habitability issues involved. The Coop's legal costs should only wind up on your maintenance IF your issues are not legitimate. The base line for your legal action when dealing with a Coop Board is that there is a legitimate basis for a cause of action under the law as defined by the court. Both what Michele said above, and Steve here should be paid attention to.

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Laywer for roof repair - Michele Mar 02, 2012

I do hear your pain. But, as a board president that has had to deal with this issue, I have to say that the delay could be a result of several challenges that do take time to mull over and resolve. It could very likely be a financial issue and a question as to whether to fix one roof versus an entire complex's roof; it could be that you are not the only one with the same issue and the board is figuring out whether, as above, to do this unit-by-unit or as a group project (several units at a time)...and whether this sort of issue fits within a larger capital project.

I think getting a lawyer involved makes things harder to deal with. Have you also asked about the possibility of laying out the funds for repair and then being reimbursed via some sort of payment plan, perhaps through credits to your common charges?

I say all of this because we have had to deal with these issues at our complex, and to the individual owner, it seems like we are dragging our feet. But from a board perspective, we are thinking about efficiency, finances, and all that comes with these ugly problems (especially when a result of poor construction.)

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)
Lawyer for roof repair - dsi Mar 06, 2012

Five years is still five years, with little or no communication, resolution, plan or remedial action. As a Board President I can tell you that it doesn't take anywhere near that long - (assuming the worst scenario - a very complex and expensive engineering/architectural issue which would take us (3-4 Board + good management Co.) 3 months for a report and 1-3 months for a final plan of action given reasonable scale of issues. It could be 9 months if larger and 1.5 years if very, very large -maybe; remember that the larger the scale of issue the larger the team you apply in managing and coordinating the engineering, facilities committee proposal review and report, financial solutions (paid out of reserves, refi, line of credit, phased assessment, finite term maintenance surcharge etc.) and communicating it to your shareholders); to solicit, select, and hire a consulting Engineer/Firm to analyze and issue a report, establish choices and plan(s) of action based on the Coop's finances, and put a capital project, funded one way or another into play, or at the very least find a temporary remediation to protect the property while moving forward at a slower pace due to complexity, or financial reasons. One of the things that would concern me is the collateral damage: rot, infrastructural damage, and potential mold issues over five years of nothing. While I agree with Michele that there are possibly many complicating issues potentially involved, the biggest issue by far is the lack of decisive planning and action to protect the property and keep a shareholder(s) informed. This is a failure of leadership, a freeze up due to being out of their depth and not making any decisions, a definite failure on the part of the Management Co. to stay on top of critical issues, or maybe they are moving and have failed utterly in their responsibility to keep affected shareholders informed. How many election cycles have come and gone by with no word, no action, no posted solution? May is coming and that is annual meeting season for many coops. A good time to publicly demand some answers. Why not start doing some committee volunteer work or run for the Board, get involved?

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Roof Leaks - APayne Mar 21, 2012

I had a very similar experience when I moved into my building 6 years ago. Before I actually moved in, I hired an electician to install a light fixture and he discovered that there was water in the ceiling - the only thing above my unit was the roof. I immediately alerted the Super and Management. Management assured me that the problem would be resolved when I moved in. Three months later, we had a torrential downpour that resulted in water coming through my ceiling light fixture and ultimately created a hole in my celing and soaked my bed, brand new carpet, etc. For MONTHS the board and management ignored me and did not correct the problem. I finally consulted with an attorney who encouraged me to go to small claims court for the damages I incurred (because they were under $5,000). I did and won. Management refused to pay and I wound up getting a judgment issued against them - so they wound up having to give me even more than I actually was awarded by the judge for refusing to comply with the order. I had the Sherriff's dept seize the money from their account.

Later, I joined the board and learned that the board at the time of my leak was very aware of the problem. They knew my building had roofing issues all along and were told by Rand Engineering that they needed to replace the roof. For whatever reason they ignored the Engineer's report and instead chose to put $500,000 worth of new siding on the building instead to make it 'look pretty.' The property manager was eventually ousted for stealing the co-ops money and when our current management company came on board they worked to address the problems in the form of patchwork and we are now looking to do a complete replacement.

Since you have actually been dealing with this for 5 years, I would suggest going through your homeowners insurance because I'm sure you have way more than $5,000 in damage from water coming through your ceiling for 5 years. Have them do a mold inspection, because I'm pretty sure you have got to have some after that kind of moisture coming in your unit for so long. You can get your own attorney in the meantime, but your insurance company will go after the building regarding the roof repair because they don't want to spend thousands of dollars restoring the conditions of your unit only for the same thing to happen again because your management and board are too laxed to have the problem fixed.

It will probably take more time to resolve, but definitely shouldn't take you 5 years. Call the Dept. of Buildings as well and let them see your unit and they can order the building to fix it and possibly fine them for having you live under those conditions. Call the media too and shame your building into fixing that roof over your unit. Good luck!

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