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To whom it may concern, Our office has had plumbing issues…

To whom it may concern, Our...
To whom it may concern,
Our office has had plumbing issues for the last year and a half that has inconvenienced my business. Our office is located in an “office park” building that is shared with other units – our unit is located on the ground level. We have had numerous instances where our toilet has “backed up”, clogged, and overflowed. Recently, when our toilet had overflowed, we hired plumbers from Cropp Metcalfe to come over to our office to see what exactly is causing the recurrent issues with the sewage pipes. Based on what the plumbers from Cropp Metcalfe have told us, tree roots coming from a large tree outside of our unit, in the common area, have been damaging the sewage pipes, causing the recurrent issues we have had in our office with our toilet overflowing, “backing up”, and becoming clogged.
I have paid over $700.00 out of my own pocket for the plumbing services from Cropp Metcalfe – just this year alone. Since the issue is stemming from a tree in a common area of the office park, not from our office, I have contacted the association – South Tysons Office Park Board, to see if they could cover the fees from Cropp Metcalfe, and also the fees for the removal of the large tree in the common area.
The board has decided that this is solely my responsibility, and they do not want to remove the tree, or pay for the plumbing bills. The pipes still need to be replaced, and of course there will be additional fees for that as well. I have a copy of the email sent to me from the executive vice president / property manager for the South Tysons Office Park Board that I would like to forward to you, if possible, so you can have a better understanding of my situation with the board.
I have been paying quarterly fees to the South Tysons Office Park Association for the last 12 years. I would like to them for pay for issues that are occuring from the common area outside of my unit, since I am obviously not the cause of the tree roots damaging the pipes.
I would like to know my legal rights regarding the decision that has been made by the board. Please advise me on how to resolve this issue with the board.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Mitra Hooshangi, D.D.S., LLC
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Answered in 4 minutes by:
9/22/2016
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 42,518
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
Verified

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Does your lease specify that you are responsible for all plumbing and drainage matters that may arise?

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Or is the landlord responsible for the plumbing systems of the property?

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Do you have it documented in writing that the tree is the source of the problem with the roots invading the line and causing the back up?

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thanks

Barrister

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Thank you for your response.To answer your questions,
I am only responsible for the plumbing that is inside of my unit. The tree is in the common area of the office buildings. The tree just so happens to be directly in front of my office, located at the end unit.I am the landlord of this specific unit, however, I pay quarterly fees to the association to cover the outside issues and up-keep coming from the common areas (lawn mowing, snow plowing, and making sure the outside area is safe for visitors / clients coming to the office park)The association takes care of the up-keep of the office park, which has a number of different units.To specify, all of these units are business-related. Doctors, dentists (such as myself), spa's, real estate agents, etc..I do have a letter from the plumbers that clearly specify that the plumbing issues we have been experiencing are coming from the roots of the tree from the common area, right outside of my office.We also have photos of the tree roots that have penetrated the sewage pipes. This has caused our toilet to clog, overflow, and flood my office downstairs AND in the upstairs unit, which is also owned by me.I have attached the invoice from the plumbers in PDF format.Let me know if you have any other questions.Thank youMitra Hooshangi, D.D.S.

Ok, then this is clearly a matter where the Association is liable for any damages you have suffered due to their negligence in maintaining or failing to remove the tree that has caused the problem. This would be considered a "private nuisance" of the tree damaging and invading the sewer lines and you have legal grounds to sue them first for your costs of having to clear the lines and second for "abatement" which is to force them to take measures to permanently fix the problem (i.e. remove the tree or pay for a new sewer line that is impermeable to the tree roots)

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Your evidence from your plumber is all you need to pursue this against the Association if they are refusing to reimburse you for your costs and remove the nuisance..

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If you didn't want to jump right to litigation, you could have a local attorney send a "demand letter" first threatening to sue them for your damages and hold them liable for any legal costs if they don't reimburse you and remove the tree.. Sometimes all it takes is a scary letter from an attorney to "encourage" them to take action to cure the problem..

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If you are experiencing this problem, if there are other sewer lines near, then they are likely doing so as well since the roots seek out water and the tree is twice as big underground at it is above..

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years and have dealt with this problem numerous times over the years..

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thanks

Barrister

Ask Your Own Real Estate Law Question
Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Thank you for the information.Is there any way I could possibly get that letter from you? Or, do I have to hire another attorney to have them prepare the letter to send to the board?I have not met with the board just yet, but I have demanded a meeting first from the property manager. The property manager is the one who I have addressed this issue with, and he is refusing to cooperate. He is speaking on behalf of the board, without me ever talking to them. I have also asked for the names and contact information for all members of the board. I am not sure if he actually discussed this matter with the board members, or if he is just speaking for himself.Thank youMitra Hooshangi, D.D.S.

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to represent customers from the site or recommend anyone personally under my agreement with JustAnswer. However, these are a couple sites that we attorneys actually use if we need foreign counsel in a state where we aren't licensed. Further, customers have consistently reported good results with these sites:

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www.martindale.com

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www.lawyers.com

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They screen their attorneys based on geographic location, area of practice, time in practice, cost and customer reviews.

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Any local civil attorney can draft up the letter for you from a template..

And I wouldn't bother with the property manager any longer as you will have better results going directly to the Board and bypassing the "gatekeepers". The won't want to get sued and should just agree to take the tree down and reimburse you since they are responsible for your damages and their attorney will tell them that..

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thanks

Barrister

Ask Your Own Real Estate Law Question
Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Thank you for the information.We received a response from the property manager via email. We were not able to save the email in a PDF format but I have copied the message to paste below. I want to know what you think about his response to me. It seems to me that he is trying to fabricate a story, despite reviewing the official report from the plumbers at Cropp Metcalfe. We have pictures of the tree root that have clogged the plumbing, when I showed it to him, he still insisted that the roots are not causing the issue.Here is the response:"Dr. Hooshangi,I just wanted to correct some of your statements in your email below, based on my conversations with 3 different plumbers.1) The source of the problem is that you have defective plumbing which has allowed the roots from the tree to get into your sewer lateral. If your sewer lateral was not defective the roots would not be able to get into it.2) There is no evidence that the roots from this tree have disrupted your foundation.3) I would prefer not to see a healthy tree removed if it can be avoided. However, this would be the Board's decision. Removal of the tree still does not fix your defective sewer lateral.4) Please provide me with the name of other unit owners that you have spoken with regarding concerns about tree roots. I have been managing this property for many years. No unit owner or tenant has ever expressed any concerns about tree roots to me.I will ask the board when they are available to meet with you. It would have to be during normal business hours (Mon - Fri. 9 am - 5 pm). Current Board members include Jim Hurd, Byron *****, ***** Hummel, Robert Epstein and Patrick McGinty."------Let me know what you think about his response.Thank you
Mitra Hooshangi, D.D.S.

He is completely ignorant about how a lateral line can have a tiny crack in the top of it and still function perfectly. The tree's roots are hair thin and pry open that crack and then begin growing into the sewer and become a mass of roots like a root ball..

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But the point here is that this person has zero authority to decide anything, so I wouldn't even be dealing with him, as I mentioned earlier. He is just an employee, not the decision maker so you are wasting your time even communicating with him.

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I would send my demands and copies of your evidence directly to the Board, and then if they didn't agree to voluntarily remove the tree and reimburse you, file suit exactly as I said earlier..

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Don't waste your time talking with the janitor when you need to talk to the President...

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thanks

Barrister

Ask Your Own Real Estate Law Question
Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Thank you so much for your prompt response.
He also failed to give me the contact information for the members of the board, just their names. I need to send a letter to the board members directly so I can communicate with them about setting up a meeting as soon as possible.Thank you again. I will keep you posted as soon as I hear something from them.SincerelyMitra Hooshangi, D.D.S.

You are very welcome. Happy to help any time.

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided as that is the only way I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks much

Barrister

Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 42,518
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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