Monday, February 14, 2011
Help Me Howard: Stop Elevator
If you needed to do something would you do it to cause the most amount of trouble for people or the least? Easy to answer right, unless you live at one condo, but the bigger question, legally can you go out of your way to inconvenience the most amount of people? As Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser tells us the law might surprise you.
WSVN -- If you have ever spent a snowy February in Canada you know why so many Canadians spend their winters in sunny South Florida.
Lorna Bierbrier: "Because my husband, as you can see, is in a wheelchair and he can't manage back there in the snow and cold."
After Hy had a stroke 20 years ago, the Bierbriers bought a condo for the cold months where Hy can get out and enjoy the sun.
Lorna Bierbrier: "Up until now I have loved it, now I am just very upset."
Here is why Hy and Lorna live on the fourth floor of a century village building, there is only elevator in the place and a few days ago their condo board sent out a notice.
Lorna Bierbrier: "Saying the elevator is going to be done the last week in February, the first week in March."
As you can see, the elevator works fine, but the board wants a new one and if it's shut down for three to four weeks during the winter it means the elderly residents, like Hy who can't walk up and down the stairs will be stranded.
Lorna Bierbrier: "He will not be able to leave the house. That means he won't be able to go to the doctor. Not only does it surprise me, it shocks me and it hurts me."
There is a very simple solution, a lot of the residents are snowbirds they will be leaving in the beginning of April so wait a month to replace the elevator. Easy right? Not to this condo board.
Lorna Bierbrier: "You inconvenience the least of people not the most amount of people common sense tells you that, my common sense tells me that, but I guess my board doesn't have that common sense."
Lorna's neighbors are also upset begging the board to put off replacing the elevator from March to April.
Lorna Bierbrier: "I would like to see it postponed until we go home. I am too old to be running up and down the stairs."
But Lorna is the most distraught.
Lorna Bierbrier: "I said to my husband, I feel like selling our condo because it's hard for me to live with people who can be so mean spirited to even consider doing this to us, sorry."
Well Howard, sometimes common sense and decency are forgotten, but legally can the board replace the elevator when it would inconvenience the most residents.
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally you can't force the board to wait to replace the elevator, however if they do it and imprison people like Hy in their condo they are looking at a litany of legal problems and a lawsuit that would probably lose. However, if they wait a month, there will be no disabled people locked in, no legal issues and life will be much simpler for everyone."
I wasn't able to talk to the board member who was the force behind replacing the elevator right away, but he left me a message. To put it politely, he wasn't very happy Help Me Howard got involved in their little issue. When I explained to the condo president that they were facing a lot of legal problems if they moved ahead, she told me that's your opinion. An attorney who helps disabled people offered to sue the board to delay the installation of the elevator. The condo board then met again all the residents got to speak, then they voted again.
Lorna Bierbrier: "Starting date for the elevator construction is May 2nd, 2011, this is exactly what we wanted."
Lorna is thrilled the board did the decent thing, in part because her neighbors stepped in to help her.
Lorna Bierbrier: "Help Me Howard certainly had a large influence on the board members in changing the date, also a lot of people in the building came forward when they heard about the problem. This time common sense does prevail.
Common sense in South Florida, what a concept. Now, to avoid association issues, you are going to have to do what people hate to do, go to the board meetings. Head off the problems, before they become a problem. The meetings may put you to sleep, but they can save a lot of headaches later.
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