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CCOC Decision Summary

#260-O, Wear v. Kenwood House Condominium, Inc. (March 6, 1995) (Panel: Stevens, Fox, Szajna)

The condominium owner (CO) disputed the condominium association's (CA's) attempt to bill him $3863 for damages resulting from a water leak in his unit.  The CA blamed the damages on the CO's alleged lack of maintenance of his unit.

The evidence at the hearing showed that in September, 1991, the CA notified the CO that the ceiling of the unit below him (#307) was damp and that this might be the result of a leak from his unit (#407).  The CO claimed he did not receive this notice.  Two months later the CO was in #307 and saw that its bathroom walls were wet, he then inspected his own bathroom walls and did not notice any defect.  The owner of #307 continued to complaint to the CA about the dampness, and in April, 1992, her ceiling collapsed.  The CA was unable to contact the CO, and hired a contractor to make emergency repairs to both units without consent from the CO.  The repairs appeared to have solved the problem.  The contractor billed $424 for caulking the CO's bathroom and $2584 for repairs to #307; the bill for the $424 was sent to the CO along with a notice that the CA would file for a lien on the property if it was not paid.  The CO then filed this dispute with the Commission in January, 1994, triggering the automatic stay provisions of Chapter 10B.  Nonetheless, the CA filed its lien against the CO in May, 1994.  The contractor did not testify at the hearing as to the cause of the leak.  The CA itself never examined the conditions in either unit.

The hearing panel ruled, first, that "hearsay evidence from an unidentified person, therefore of no established expertise, that the cause of the problem in #307 was [water leaks around the tub caulking in #407] combined with the cessation of complaints [after the repairs] is not an adequate basis to support a conclusion from the evidence offered in this case that the cause of the water problem in Unit 407 was inadequate maintenance un Unit 407 in light of [the CO's] testimony."  In view of the fact that the CO testified he checked his bathroom's caulking and did not find any defect, "there is no evidence presented that a reasonable person in [the CO's] position should have known that failure to repair or replace his caulking or grout would lead to damage in another unit."  The CA did not present sufficient evidence to show that the CO was either responsible or negligent.  Moreover, the contractor's invoices were unclear as to the work performed, and the CO disputed the amount of time claimed in the invoices for work in the CO's bathroom.

The hearing panel further found that the CA and its attorney were on notice of the automatic stay provisions of Chapter 10B and violated the stay by filing a Statement of Lien.

The panel ordered that the CA failed to establish the CO's liability for the repairs, and ordered the CA to stop all billing and debt collection against the CO for the repairs.  It further ordered the CA to remove its lien and to take all action necessary to correct the CO's credit reports.

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