Condo HOA not helping owners after balconies collapse (KY)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

It’s good to see that local investigative journalists are covering serious condo and HOA issues, including the dangerous collapse of condo balconies.

When I first started this website in 2014, TV news reports focused almost exclusively on disputes over flag displays or paint color. While those are common HOA disputes, they only scratch the surface of dysfunction, waste, and abuse in association-governed communities.

Some of the worst HOA disputes involve deferred maintenance and repair, as well as construction defect issues — or a combination of both.

Double standard?

A buyer purchases a single family home or condo, expecting their HOA assessments and fees to pay for maintenance and upkeep of common areas. In a condo or townhouse association, that generally includes exterior maintenance of things like roofs and siding.

But most homeowners don’t realize that their condo association or townhouse HOA won’t necessarily take on maintenance and repair of certain exterior components, such as doors, windows, decks, patios, and balconies.

So don’t expect the cost of all exterior work to be “covered” by your regular HOA or condo assessments.

Even if you’re paying for all the work, your HOA will probably require homeowners to get their approval before making any exterior changes. Sometimes the association will also require an owner to use specific materials and approved contractors to do the repair or replacement.

underside of wood deck

Deferred maintenance

Your HOA will insist that you pay all of your assessments in full and on time. If you don’t pay, the HOA will put a lien on your home, and they can garnish your wages or even foreclose on your home to collect unpaid charges.

But what can a homeowner do when the HOA completely ignores its duty to maintain and repair? It turns out, not much, short of publicly exposing or suing the HOA.

The following report from Kentucky WCPO reporter John Matarese caught my eye as yet another example of condo HOA dysfunction to share with readers.

According to the report, Signal Hill Condominiums (Wilder, Kentucky) is professionally managed by Vertex Property Group.

The management company is a member of the national trade group, Community Associations Institute.

But, as we can see from the WCPO consumer report, it’s seems like the management company and board of directors failed to take action necessary to prevent balconies from collapsing, proving that a management company’s membership in a trade group certainly does not guarantee high quality service.

Condo deck collapses, leaving owners in dilemma

Questions over who is responsible for repairs

John Matarese
12:57 PM, Oct 3, 2018
1:08 PM, Oct 3, 2018

Many people move to condominium so they won’t have the hassle and costs of owning a home.

But what if the condo complex develops a major, expensive problem? That’s the trouble facing some Northern Kentucky condo owners, after their deck collapsed this past weekend.

Nordelle Wainz couldn’t believe what she was seeing at the Signal Hill condos in Wilder.

“As soon as I came out, I heard this scream,” she said. “I looked up and the patio was starting to come down.”

The three-level deck was pulling away from the building, and starting to fall.

“The woman upstairs from me, she’s an 80-year-old woman, was out on the patio with her daughter,” Wainz said. “The patio started to collapse, her daughter grabbed her and pulled her in.”

Read more (video):

Bully graphic

History of structural problems

According to condo owner, Nordelle Wainz, her association has known about earth movement and structural cracks for the past three years. These are serious problems that require a prompt response, yet nothing has been done about them.

Someone could have been hurt or killed as a result of the balcony collapse. Avoidable tragedies tend to create huge legal liabilities for condo associations.

Guess who pays for the association’s poor management or poor judgment? Ultimately, it’s each homeowner or shareholder in the association.

Wainz says that her condo association told her that if she doesn’t like the association’s lack of maintenance and repair, she should just sell and move out.

Unfortunately, that’s the typical ignorant response from HOA board members (and perhaps managers) who don’t care to be bothered with problems of fellow homeowners or residents.

Under these circumstances, who in their right mind would purchase a condo at Signal Hill?

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