Monday, June 28, 2010
Help Me Howard: Five Years to Fix Roof
If your roof was leaking and your association said give us time, you could wait a month, six months, but five years? That's how long residents of one South Florida complex have been waiting to get their leaky roofs repaired. So, what can they do? One thing, call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you look in the rear view mirror of your memory, you may remember hurricane Katrina, Adrian Sanchez does.
Adrian Sanchez: "Our property had water inside. It was bad, real, real bad."
And every day Adrian is reminded of Katrina.
Adrian Sanchez: "I think if we get a hurricane this season it will be catastrophic at Parc Vista, also known as Tarp Vista for us."
From Skyforce, it's easy to see why they call Parc Vista in South Dade Tarp Vista.
Adrian Sanchez: "I would say about 80 percent of the property is in tarps right now."
The roofs were damaged by hurricane Katrina five years ago. That's right, white, blue, even green tarps covering leaky roofs for years.
Adrian Sanchez: "It's disheartening. We work hard for the money that we make, we put a lot of money into our apartment and to see it damaged, it's painful."
And when it rains the water pours in through Adrian's roof dripping down the walls. Through the ceiling onto his furniture, even filling his lamps. If light bulbs could breathe, these would drown.
Adrian Sanchez: "In the summer we barely have anyone here when it rains, it's very embarrassing."
Water pouring into dozens of apartments is embarrassing. Irritating is the fact the homeowners association seems to be doing nothing.
Adrian Sanchez: "Each time it's, 'Oh we're a month out. We should get a result sometime soon,' and we've been hearing this for five years."
And if that's irritating, infuriating the residents is the fact that they have insurance to pay for a new roof, but the insurance company hasn't paid.
Adrian Sanchez: "Not a dime."
Thunderstorm by thunderstorm their homes are being destroyed and their health is taking a hit as well.
Adrian Sanchez: "My wife and I suffer from allergies and when you have water intrusion, you have mold. We've already been displaced for six months and I feel like it's going to happen again."
Five years of rain. Five years of destruction. Howard, lawyers always like to say a reasonable amount of time to resolve a problem, this isn't reasonable, so who is responsible?
Howard Finkelstein: "While both the insurance company and the association could be responsible, the association is definitely responsible, because they have what the law calls a fiduciary relationship. In other words, they must protect their homeowners."
After talking to both sides, I could bore you with legal talk but I won't. In a nutshell, the association blames the insurance company for the long delay. The insurance company blames the association. The insurance company did add that two weeks ago they got the information they were looking for and hope to have a resolution soon. Adrian has heard that for five years, and residents are tired of it.
Howard Finkelstein: "Any damage that occurs say a year after the hurricane, has to be paid for by the association because they did protect the property, and if they blame the insurance company, they can sue them to get that money back."
Adrian is hopeful this time the repairs are made to his roof and home, because if it takes much longer there might not be many homeowners left.
Adrian Sanchez: "It's tough, it's tough, I mean we have so many unit owners leaving their houses and letting them go into foreclosure, the people that are still living here are picking up the tab."
How can you protect yourself if your association is a little on the slow side in fixing problems? Simple, pressure. Put pressure on your association and put your complaints in writing. The letters are important because then the association can not claim they had no idea your home was slowly being destroyed. Also, keep a copy of the letters so they can not claim they never got them or their copy jumped into a shredder.
Dilemmas drip, drip, dripping on you. Ready to raise the roof. Pour it into our laps. Mold can't grow when we are skimming through the law books.