E-Letters Cont.

Q.  I bought a new condominium apartment and now the roof leaks—or something leaks. All I know is water is coming into my condo. What can I do?

A.  To begin, the insurance on your unit and the condo association’s insurance on the building normally won’t cover the risk of construction defects. So, what do you do? First, find out if you’re the only one with this problem. Probably not. If it’s a problem with the building as a whole—and especially if other unit owners are suffering as well—then you can work with them and the board of managers to solve it. Second, get a reliable engineer or architect to inspect the building from top to bottom to try to locate the cause of your problem—and to identify any other problems. It’s rare that just one thing goes wrong in a building. Third, bring the inspection report and the condo offering plan to a lawyer familiar with such problems and get his or her opinion on who is responsible and what can be done. If there has been a misstatement or misrepresentation of material fact in the offering plan—like we’ll have a steel plated roof, not a Home Depot plywood roof—then the sponsor/developer who built the building and sold the units might well be responsible under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act to pay damages to the condominium association or unit owners as well as their attorneys fees. He might even have insurance—but don’t count on it. Finally, if there have to be repairs to the building, consider financing them—and possibly even the cost of suing the sponsor—with a mortgage secured by the future stream of common charge payments by the unit owners. That would beat having to charge everyone with a big assessment.