Woes with the HOA in Austin

5 Replies

Just digging for some suggestions here.

I own a 1/1 condo in Austin. On Sept 9th, the tenant at my rental unit informs me that the unit is flooded. The tenant was out on business for some days. It is from a leak that occurred from a pipe from the upper floor. Apparently, the damage is substantial that the unit is inhabitable. At the moment, I am paying for lodging for my tenant at my expense.

I immediately contacted my insurance company, Fidelity, the following day. They said due to the HOA Declarations and Bylaws and it states...

"13.2. PROPERTY. To the extent reasonably available, the Association will maintain property insurance insuring against all risks of direct physical loss commonly insured against, including fire and extended coverage, in a total amount of at least 80 percent of the replacement cost or actual cash value of the insured property as of the effective date and at each renewal date of the policy, for the individual Units, for insurable Limited Common Element improvements, for insurable General Common Element improvements, and for insurable Areas of Common Responsibility improvements, but will not maintain any property insurance for alterations, additions, improvements, and betterments made by, or acquired at the expense of, and individual Owner or a Resident to the Owner's Unit, a Limited Common Element improvement assigned thereto, a General Common Element improvement or an Area of Common Responsibility improvement."

Because of the CC&Rs, Fidelity says that the HOA needs to be responsible for the repairs. Sounds easy, right? Well....

Three weeks into it, many emails and phone calls later, the HOA has neglected to take responsibility for the 11K water leak damage. I've attempted to explain that the HOA has the responsibility to insure each Unit for damages but the HOA came back to tell me that this is a maintenance issue with the owner on the third floor and not HOA. It has been a dispute of apples and oranges. I could not and have not been able to explain to the HOA that they need to be responsible regardless. I even had the handyman as well as an AC technician write an email to the HOA president indicating that they should cover the leak from the upper floor. I cannot hold off on my repairs any longer as it is a loss of rental income for me as well as expense for housing my tenant elsewhere.

So, today, I gave the go head to the contractor to get started. I had two lawyers look over the verbage of the CC&R and they say I have a strong case against the HOA for negligence and breach of contract for their failure to "maintain property insurance". I am also filing a liability claim against the HOA's insurance. We'll see how this pans out. If the liability department declines my claim, then I guess I have to go ahead with hiring one of the attorneys. So far, I feel quite defeated as I have gotten no where in three weeks.

I'm just wondering who else out there has any dealings with the HOA that is handled by Team Group Systems in Austin. And, if anyone else has any inputs on what else I should or shouldn't do while I wait for the HOA's insurance to get back to me.

Peggy- I would Strongly recomend consulting

a lawyer who is active in" Community Association"

or" Condo Law". It would be unusual for an

Association to provide insurance to cover the

interior dammage to a Unit.

There are also questions on the Liability from

the owners of the Unit that was the source of the

leak vs. any from the Association. A capable

and Experienced Attorney in the Specialized area

of Condo Law will sort this all out for you!

I don't hear you mention " unit owner" insurance

by anybody involved- is there any? Again the skilled

attorney can assist with recovery too!

Google" Condo Law-LA " and/ or Contact your local

Bar Assciation for a referral ! Get help you really need!

Bob Brubaker

@Robert Brubaker

Yes, it would be unusual for an association to cover the interior damage but the water leak came from a common pipe from the upstairs unit. And again, under the 13.2 clause that was given, it does state that the HOA needs to cover damages within the unit.

Thank you for the recommendation. I had sent a threatening email to the HOA this morning indicating that if they don't take action to resolve the matter, I will seek a lawyer to handle it. They replied within the hour telling me that are currently opening up a claim for me. So we'll see how this still pan out.

Part of the issue may be whether the failed plumbing was in the common area, between floors, or was within the unit(ie under the sink) above. I've seen cases where the HOA was liable, and others where the unit owner above was liable. I am not up to speed on the exact differences.

I completely agree with @Robert Brubaker .

Moreover, time is of the essence. So is written documentation, which it seems you are doing.

Sadly, while insurance companies are designed to be our savings security blankets, too many times it requires the negotiating skills and knowledge of a lawyer to get results.

Who is legally and financially liable should not be debated in a blog. Even if you hire a lawyer and file suit, your attorney will probably never guarantee a win. Just the language of the section you quoted is debatable. Moreover, the amount of money you are willing to risk can influence the outcome. Time is the other major issue. Insurance companies are well aware of this fact.

Best of luck.

Thanks @Tom Goans and @Wayne Brooks . It has been a headache for the past three weeks and it continues to be. If the HOA is not liable, the unit upstairs should. Of course, I'm just working on logic and in the world of insurance coverage, I guess that's not the way it works..

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