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CCOC Decision Summary

#257-O, Eiland v. Autumn Walk Condominium Association Inc. (June 16, 1995) (Panel: Broe, Glancy, Huson) 

The condominium owner (CO) claimed that the condominium association (CA) had failed its duty to properly maintain the common elements in that it failed to prevent leaks into her basement unit.  The CA claimed in its defense that the area had a history of underground springs and that it had paid every affected homeowner $200 to purchase and install a sump pump.

The evidence at the hearing showed that shortly after she bought her unit it began to flood during rains and she began complaining to the CA about the leaks.  The CA paid her $200 to buy a sump pump; she cashed the check but did not buy the pump.  More flooding followed, and the CA hired a contractor to inspect the unit.  The contractor asked that the basement paneling be removed so he could inspect the foundation walls, but the CO refused to allow this unless the CA paid to repair the walls, which the CA refused to do.  The CO hired her own expert, whose report and testimony at the hearing was to the effect that the concrete foundation was cracked, the exterior waterproofing was in bad condition, and the basement window wells and utility service pipes were poorly sealed; he recommended that the foundation be excavated and thoroughly repaired at a cost of up to $7000.  The CA also produced an expert at the hearing who testified that the problem was not due to underground springs but to a leaking hose, poor drainage in the back of the unit, a gap between the patio and the basement wall, and a defective gutter; he recommended that the gutter be repaired and the patio be jacked up so that it sloped away from the house; he did not think it necessary to excavate and repair the foundation; the total cost would be about $2000.  The CA's own rules state that the CA must maintain the common elements and the foundations of the houses.

The hearing panel ruled that the chronic flooding could be due to numerous causes and that the CA is responsible to stop the leaks.  If the actions it takes based on its own expert witness's recommendations do not stop the leaks it must obtain additional evaluations and make additional repairs.  The panel also ruled that the CA's efforts to deal with the leaks thus far were inadequate and ineffective, and that it was liable for the damages to the CO's unit and personal property and must pay her the fair market value for the lost items, and it awarded her $3300 for the items based on her evidence, less a credit of $200 that she received for the sump pump.  However, the panel ruled that the CO was not entitle to be paid for "loss of use" of her basement because the flooding was intermittent; it also denied her requests for witness fees and attorney fees because it found that there was not enough evidence to show that the CA acted in bad faith or without justification.

The panel ordered the CA to present a plan for repairs to the CO within 45 days and to finish the repairs within 90 days; and that if the proposed repairs did not solve the problem, to propose additional repairs.  It ordered the CA to pay the CO $3318 to cover the cost of her losses and property damage.

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