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CCOC Decision Summary

#14-12, Rosner v. Heritage Green Condominium Association (January 18, 2013) (Panel: Stone, Coyle, Fonoroff)

The condominium unit owner disputed a bill of $280 from the Association for service calls performed by a plumber in her unit.  She alleged the cost was excessive, that the work was not necessary and not properly done, she was not given the opportunity to do the work herself and she was not informed in advance of what it would cost if the Association did it.  The Association defended the reasonableness of the charges and the need for the work on the grounds that it was necessary to stop leaks from the owner's unit into a downstairs unit.

The CCOC accepted jurisdiction of the complaint and referred it to the Office of Zoning & Administrative Hearings (OZAH) pursuant to Section 10B-12(d) of the Montgomery County Code.

The hearing office conducted a formal hearing on the dispute, taking testimony from witnesses for both parties.  The evidence showed that in September, 2010, the downstairs owner complained of leaks from the upstairs unit, and in response the Association sent a plumber who pulled the unit owner's hall toilet, snaked the line and remounted the toilet.  In April or May, 2011, the downstairs owner again complained of leaks from above, and the Association sent a plumber back to the unit owner's apartment.  The unit owner made an appointment to let the plumber into her unit.  The plumber testified he found the hall toilet properly fixed to the floor but the master bath toilet was loose and so was the likely cause of the leaks, but the unit owner refused permission to fix that toilet and insisted that the plumber snake the hall toilet.  The unit owner pulled out the hall toilet and the plumber snaked the line beneath it, finding no blockage; and the plumber then reinstalled the hall toilet.  At the request of the Association the plumber reduced his bill by half since some of his time was spent snaking the common drain lines.

The hearing officer found that the unit owner had an opportunity to hire her own plumber, since the downstairs neighbor had unsuccessfully made several complaints to her in early 2011.  There was insufficient evidence to show that the work done in September, 2010, was not properly done, because the plumber subsequently found that a different toilet was loose and likely to cause a leak and he also found no blockage or other defect in the toilet that he had worked on before.  The bill was reasonable for 3 hours of work even though some of that work had been performed in the common lines.  The hearing officer recommended that the CCOC dismiss the complaint.

The hearing panel accepted the hearing officer's recommendations, and it dismissed the complaint.  It also ordered the unit owner to pay $270 to the Association (after deduction of an improper late fee of $10).

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