This month’s roundup of HOA dysfunction (June 2018)


Association-governed communities have important responsibilities, but many times, the HOA falls short of fulfilling its duties.
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities



Condo swimming pool

Here’s a serious safety warning: make sure the pool service contractor for your HOA’s pool club knows how to safely handle and monitor those pool chemicals.

A San Jose area pool contractor made a dangerous error — mixing muriatic acid with chlorine. It created a noxious gas cloud that floated from the pump room to the pool deck. Inhalation of the chemical mix by 35 people at the pool could have been deadly. Several pool guests were sickened, reporting difficulty breathing, some of them vomiting.

All were taken to nearby hospitals and released within 24 hours.

The pool was scheduled to reopen on June 16th, according to the Shadow Brook HOA website.

At least 35 people at San Jose swimming pool exposed to dangerous chemical mix.

By Mark Gomez, Annie Sciacca, John Woolfolk, Kristin Lam, Bay Area News Group

Published: June 14, 2018  2:20 P.M.

Updated: June 15, 2018   12:01 P.M.

SAN JOSE — A summer afternoon at a neighborhood swimming pool took a frightening turn Thursday when at least 35 people, including kids, were exposed to a dangerous mixture of chemicals after a pool maintenance worker mixed the wrong products.

All of the people exposed to the combination of muriatic acid and chlorine — pool chemicals that created a gas cloud at Shadow Brook Swim Club in Almaden Valley — were decontaminated and transported to hospitals, according to the San Jose Fire Department.

Officials said the victims were taken to nine different local hospitals in 10 ambulances. The patients included children as young as 6 and a number of parents. San Jose Fire Capt. Mitch Matlow said a few of the those exposed to the gas cloud experienced shortness of breath and vomiting, but he could not say whether anyone was seriously injured.

Matlow said a contractor working for the pool maintenance company hired by the swim club was pouring pool chemicals into containers in the pump room and put at least one of the chemicals into the wrong spot.

Officials said that inside the pool’s pump room, the chlorine level was at 15 parts per million Thursday afternoon — far above the maximum allowable exposure limit below 1 part per million. The swim club was directed to hire an environmental services company with proper equipment to clean up the scene, a process that Matlow said various agencies, including the fire department and the county health department, would oversee.

Matlow said exposure to a high level mixture of muriatic acid and chlorine could potentially lead to serious health consequences. “Long term, those patients could end up on ventilators and be attached to a breathing machine for quite some time until their lungs heal enough to breathe on their own,” he said.

Read more (Video):

At least 35 people at San Jose swimming pool exposed to dangerous chemical mix

See also:

All San Jose pool visitors released from hospitals after toxic chemical incident



Sewer sewage drain

In the following report from North Carolina, Barbara Parker, a landlord-owner of several townhouse units took her HOA to court after they refused to pay for damages to one of her units, caused by backup of raw sewage. A judge agreed that the condo association was at fault, and should pay the unit owner $7,000 to reimburse her for replacing the floors in her unit.

The owner says she could not wait to for the HOA to get around to authorizing and making repairs, because North Carolina landlord-tenant law requires timely action to keep the housing unit habitable.

Despite the lower court ruling in favor of the condo owner, the association says its insurance company won’t pay for the repairs. So now the HOA is going back to court to appeal the judge’s decision, at a cost that will almost definitely exceed the $7,000 award.


Homeowner’s flooring ruined by “raw sewage,” HOA refuses to pay

David Sentendrey, Fox46
POSTED: JUN 13 2018 06:57PM EDT
UPDATED: JUN 14 2018 02:54PM EDT

CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) – A Charlotte landlord successfully sued her homeowner’s association after she said raw sewage took over her townhome in November, but the H.O.A. is appealing that judge’s decision.

“How horrible to be living in a place and have sewage backup,” landlord Barbara Parker said.

Parker owns multiple townhomes in the Coventry Woods neighborhood off Coronado Drive and Sharon Amity Road. Parker said one of her units flooded with raw sewage as her unit is located at the bottom of a hill.

Read more (Video):




Is there ever a quick recovery from a condo fire?

It’s exceedingly rare.

Instead, this Florida condo complex is now the site of TWO buildings damaged by fire. And, with no security lighting at night, residents also report thefts of personal belongings.

County Code Enforcement has promised to visit the site in the near future. It remains to be seen whether that will prompt any meaningful action by the condo association.


Condo building not fully repaired nearly two years after a fire

Neighbors feel ‘stuck in limbo,’ blame HOA

Isabel Rosales

5:41 PM, Jun 13, 20188:16 PM, Jun 13, 2018 (WFTS)

HILLSBOROUGH Co., Fla. — Neighbors in a Hillsborough County community are living in limbo. They demand to know when something will finally be done about the fire damage next to their condos. They claim the HOA is dragging its feet on repairs.

Whenever Carl Porchiazzo orders delivery pizza he has to give the driver special instructions.

“Look for the abandoned derelict building. I live in the derelict building,” he said.

Metal fencing, broken glass and no railings are some of the issues. It’s a building not fully repaired a year-and-a half since a fire torched it.

Read more (video):

See also, a recent WFTS report of a second fire in a different building at the same condominium complex. 

Families left homeless after large fire at Hillsborough County apartment complex



Glass cup of water
( free image)

Drinking water contamination is becoming more common, especially in communities with private water supply and distribution systems.

Nestled near ski slopes, the vintage townhouse units, with recent sale prices below $200,000, are a popular weekend and vacations rental option.

Because of these water quality violations, condo owners will have to pay their share of a $20,000 fine, on top of the cost to replace corroded plumbing lines and water storage tank

Killington condo association fined for drinking water violations

June 12, 2018   11:59 A.M.

KILLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A condominium complex in Killington faces fines for failing to maintain its drinking water system.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources announced Tuesday that Hemlock Ridge at Killington Owners Association was fined almost $20,000 for many years of failing to properly manage and maintain the public drinking water system supplying the complex.

The violations include alleged high levels of radium and failing to replace an aging storage tank.


The official VT Agency of Natural Resources’ Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) notice here, which also notes lead contamination, in addition to radium.


Water meter
( free image)

In older mulitifamily communities, it’s common to have a single water meter, rather than individual water meters for each condo, townhouse, or apartment. In many cases, when some owners don’t pay their share of condo fees, the association cannot pay its collective water utility bill.

In this particular Pennsylvania townhouse HOA, one individual’s limited liability corporation owned 165 out of 425 homes, and failed to pay water and sewer fees before declaring bankruptcy in 2014.

Now, keep in mind that, somehow, what was once war production housing in the 1940s was later sold to private organizations. At some point, the County and the City agreed to allow common ownership with a homeowners association, despite the fact that individual units lack their own plumbing supply and waste lines.

Pennsylvania American Water (PAWC, a private water utility company) and Clairton Municipal Authority (a public provider of sanitary sewage treatment) are now owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Residents — many of them tenants, but some of them owner-occupants — face imminent threat of having water utilities shut down, even if they have faithfully paid their share of monthly fees or rent for years.

PAWC won’t consider installing separate water meters, and the HOA says it cannot afford to modify plumbing on its insolvent budget.

One water meter for 425 homes plus three bankruptcies: A world of problems in Clairton community

By Kate Giammarise and Joyce Gannon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Water still flows from the faucets at Century Townhomes, a 425-unit apartment complex in Clairton.

But an ongoing legal battle in bankruptcy court over hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid water bills could shape the site’s future and have lasting impact on residents there.

When Pennsylvania American Water shut off the taps at the complex for about six hours last month, it was the latest twist in a years-long utilities saga for the properties.

For residents, the problem has meant unexpected water shutoffs and ongoing uncertainty.

“You never know from day to the next if you’re going to wake up with water,” said Lu Ann McLachlan, who has lived in her apartment on Lincoln Avenue for about six years.

At a hearing in federal bankruptcy court Tuesday, attorneys for the water utility and the Century Townhomes homeowners’ association agreed to continue working toward a long-term resolution to getting the bills paid — without any surprise shutoffs — and finding a way to provide individual water meters for each of the 400-plus units in the complex.

The homeowners association owes Pennsylvania American Water $353,040.33 as of May 21, according to court documents filed by the utility.

Much of that debt however, accumulated under a previous owner.

Century Arms Townhomes LLC, which owned 165 of the 425 units, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014.

At the time of the filing, its principal, David Geisler, was delinquent in water and sewage charges of about $275,000, according to a court filing.

Read more:


Finger pointing blame

In some cases, when local media puts a spotlight on a nonresponsive HOA, it prompts a response.

See the following example from Delaware, Ohio — for two years, a homeowner has witnessed the three way finger-pointing, and blame-shifting among his HOA, the owners of the golf course, and the township. Nobody wanted to take responsibility for a crumbling retaining wall. The HOA did not press the issue, so nothing got done about it.

Finally, the Township had the area surveyed, and concluded the wall is in the public right of way. The matter is on the agenda for June 18 Township meeting.

ABC 6 On Your Side gets results for a frustrated Delaware homeowner

Rodney Dunigan

DELAWARE, Ohio — A Delaware homeowner has been trying to get something done about a crumbling retaining wall near his home for almost two years.

After all the frustration, he reached out to ABC 6 On Your Side to see if he could get results.

Phil Weiker said the wall is not only an eyesore, but pretty dangerous as well. He reached out to ABC 6 last week. ABC 6 got in contact with township trustees and now the issue will be cleaned up soon.

“I’m just happy that someone’s finally accepted responsibility for this thing. It’s been too long and we’re just lucky no one has gotten hurt,” said Weiker.

Weiker is now breathing a sigh of relief.

Read more:

Original report

Delaware home owner concerned over crumbling wall

by Rodney Dunigan
Friday, May 25th 2018

DELAWARE, Ohio — It’s a back and forth that’s been going for years now and now a Delaware home owner is fed up. A retaining wall in his subdivision that’s become a dangerous eyesore, falling over just steps from his home.

Phil Weiker told ABC6 that he has some major concerns. Here’s the issue, no one will fix the wall because it’s not clear who actually owns the property. It’s a back and forth between the local homeowners association and a neighboring golf course. Right now, everyone is saying, it’s not their responsibility.Read more (Video):

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