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Marc Colen
Marc Colen, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 9
Experience:  25 years experience, state and federal litigation, intellectual property, business law.
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Ive had trouble with my condominium association. The company

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I’ve had trouble with my condominium association. The company that manages my condo complex manages several other communities as well. My property manager who has managed the property for several years does not appear to be very confident, and I have recently conveyed this to her. She doesn’t answer her phone (screens calls) so I have to keep leaving messages. Some of the brilliant things she has done include:

*Not providing preventive maintenance properly (I’ve been there 16 years). She suddenly proclaimed about 2 years ago that things had deteriorated-surprise, surprise-- and raised our fees 41% for major costs. They have a large budget for this—what did she do with maintenance money?

*Recently several large mailbox clusters for 48 residents mysteriously disappeared for about 5 days. We had no mail and didn’t know what happened. On the day they were finally replaced, she left a memo dated 2 days earlier at our doorsteps explaining what happened, and that she didn’t have advance note that the post office was going to take them away and replace them. The post office told me she had advance notice.

*Their contractors replacing siding (unannounced) at the back of heat pump closets knocked out my phone system and left large amounts of insulation hanging on the heat pump when they ripped open the back of the closets. I had to call the phone company to repair the outside damage and did not have service again until the next day. In addition I had to pay to have someone inspect the unit to see if there was any damage and whether this material had come from the unit. This woman doesn’t monitor what these people do.

*Two laughing maintenance men (unannounced) ripped out a portion of my porch ceiling just outside my door 3 years ago in the fall and nailed it back up covering it with unpainted furring strips. I had to clean up the mess they made. She said it was a temporary hatch so these guys could hunt for squirrels even though we have no attics. When I told her that she said she had never been in the area. She said it would be repaired to original condition in the spring after they were through hunting for squirrels . Not only did no one else ever use this so-called temporary hatch but it was never repaired to original condition. I had to call the maintenance people just to have it painted one color so it would look better.

*A trash room which is supposed to be kept locked, had a malfunctioning lock so it was always unlocked. It also had a burned out bulb (behind a metal cage so we couldn’t change it) for months. Any woman could have been easily raped in there.

*She sent some men up on the roof to do some work and afterwards my skylight starting leaking rain onto my possessions and the carpet.

*She doesn’t announce things like mailboxes are going to be taken away or they’re going to cut down trees near parked cars, and doesn’t seem to monitor what’s going on with the maintenance people. After her men knocked out my phone system about ten days ago and I had to call the phone company, as well as a heat pump contractor, I left her another message telling her that not only did I think she was incompetent and a liar but that she was wasting our high condo fees.

I got a letter about a week later from the President there saying I had made threatening calls and was abusive. This never happened. I was quite direct and blunt with her (on her voice mail-she doesn’t answer the phone) and told her she was incompetent, a liar, wasteful etc. and was afraid to answer her phone, choosing rather to screen out calls and then deciding whom she would call back. These were all factual statements. His letter also indicated that from now on I could not send e-mails, make phone calls or even visit ( I have never been there, wherever their office is) if something went wrong. He stated that I had to send a letter. He copied his sister-- the CFO and the Board of Directors.

I sent back a 5 page certified letter detailing what she had done over the years that made her incompetent a liar, etc. and instructed him not to send me any more intimidating and ridiculous letters. I also told him I had years of accounting and financial experience and I felt there was something wrong over there with what was being done with the money.

I also e-mailed him telling him the letter was on its way and that I did not like the tone of the letter because any third party reading that letter could infer I had actually made some physical threat. I told him he had copied two parties and he was liable for any character assassination. I also informed him that I have paid thousands and thousands of dollars in condo fees over the years and if anything else went wrong, that I would certainly call, e-mail, etc, and that I did not like the peculiar censorship attempts.

Please give me your quick analysis on this and advise me on what else I should do.
Gross incompetence/malfeasance of a property manager is not uncommon. You might want to look into the relationship of the president of the association and manager. They may be too cozy.

Have you brought this up with the entire board? Present all of the claims to the board and see if they will not do anything. Every one doubtless has E&O [errors and omissions] insurance so I would have an attorney make a demand that all of the issues be addressed immediately and demand all of the docs between the association and management association - you are entitled to this information and demand the name of their insurance company [which you probably have in the annual statement].

If you have the name of the insurance company your attorney can just send them a cc or send a cover letter.

Either way you should see some serious action without spending a lot.

I would appreciate it if you would let me know how this comes out.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
What about this business about the letter he sent me which he copied to the Board of Directors? It was pure character assaisination as far as I'm concerned and I did not like it. As indicated, someone reading it, might get the impression I made some sort of physical threat. I've copied the Board on my reply to him but is there anything else I can warn him about regarding the misleading contents of this letter.
Residents shouldn't be abused like this if make legitimate complaints.
Also what about this nonsense where he states I can only send a letter to them. I'm completely ignoring this. This is ridiculous as far as I'm concerned. I pay them money each month which they put into escrow, and I can only send a letter??
I have done a lot of defamation cases and they are very hard, especially where there are no apparent damages. I you file lawsuit you can add it in but you need not file defamation action until shortly before the Statute of Limitations runs.

The rules usually state that you can't contact anyone but the board. But the First Amendment to the Constitution trumps that.
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