Tenants: invisible HOA victims

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Some readers may not be aware that these days, college student housing options include condos.

For many decades, Universities have traditionally built and managed on-campus student housing. But quite often, a shortage of  available student housing has led to dozens of private landlords renting apartments in multifamily homes or apartment buildings near campus.

And many times, if there is a university nearby, condominiums will become almost exclusively student housing.

Such is the case with Mill Creek Condominiums in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The condos are located within walking distance to a University of North Carolina  (UNC) campus.

Typical of many condominium associations nowadays, most, if not all of the units are owned by absentee landlords. Each condo owner hires a real estate management firm to manage one or or more units he or she owns. The real estate manager collects a management fee, and the owner collects the bulk of the rent.

Typical of a condo association, however, each owner is responsible for maintaining the interior of units, while an Association Management company assists with maintenance of the common interest assets such as hallways, building exterior surfaces, parking lots, and grounds.

So, what can a college student tenant expect from condo life?


No disclosure of leaky pipes

In the case of Mill Creek Condominium tenants, apparently they can expect to deal with leaky plumbing and damage to personal property. The plumbing leaks because the building is over 30 years old, and contains polybutylene pipes – a defective type of plastic that was commonly used in the 1980s and early 1990s.

This defect is disclosed to buyers of condos at Mill Creek. But people buy them anyway, enticed by easy rental income.

Each condo owner-landlord is responsible for replacing leaky polybutylene plumbing, and most wait until the pipes burst before doing so. When that happens, a tenants’ belongings are often damaged.

But what does that matter to the landlord-owner? The tenant should have renter’s insurance, right? So why should the owner be proactive and replace all the plumbing before it does leak?

And here’s the most outrageous part: tenants are not warned ahead of time about the increased likelihood of plumbing leaks, and most do not know who to call when it occurs. There’s no law requiring disclosure of construction defects to tenants.

For some reason, HOA and Condo statutes only address disclosure rights of owners, but not their tenants. In fact, tenant rights in general are diluted when residing in a condo association.

On the bright side, UNC students that reside at Mill Creek are getting educated on the risks and pitfalls of condo living.  I wonder how enthusiastic they will be about buying a condo or townhouse in the future.


Mill Creek Condominium tenants’ property damaged over faulty pipes

Read more: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2016/04/mill-creek-condominium-tenants-property-damaged-over-faulty-pipes
Quoted from The Daily Tar Heel



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