The HOA refuses to reimburse

5 Replies

Hello, on February 12, 2018 I authorized my tenant to call the plumber and do the job in my condo. I was out of state. The tenant complaint about my kitchen sink - water back up. A handy man came first, used 50 ft plumbing snake, the issue didn't go away. I've contacted the management company and explained the situation, stating that we are seeking a licensed plumber and if it's ok to start the job because, most likely, it's a common area issue. Our bylaw says everything behind the wall is a common area and any repairs on that side is a financial responsibility of the association, not  owners. 

They emailed to me and the Board president, saying that everything's under control, they spoke to the plumber and made sure he is aware to stop all work and call them when he knows what's going on. The plumber opened up three walls, never called the management company, finished the job in less then 5 hours, charged my unsuspecting tenant, an older lady, whooping $2400 (about $500 per hour) and left. 

I have never been reimbursed for this spending. Nobody on the Board denies that the job done was in the common area. They said the bill is unreasonably high and they need a full financial breakdown from the plumber. I've contacted the plumber numerous times conveying the Board's request. I also asked him why he didn't call the management company when he was told to. I've contact BBB and a few other organizations about the plumber's actions. All of them said, as much as it is, he charged me for his job and the Board should reimburse me. Ever since we've been going in circles and I see no end to this saga. I've contacted an attorney but he said I'll spend more paying him, so it's not worth is. $2400 is a lot of money (for me to just donate to HOA). What should I do? Thank you!

I'd talk to your attorney again and have him send something to them. Even if you don't intend to sue, it may scare them into paying.

You also have the option to represent yourself in small claims court, assuming you have writing from them stating the job was done in the common area.

The email you have from the board president stating that it's under control and the plumber is aware and that they told the plumber to stop working shows them taking responsibility for the situation, and it no longer is your issue.

Seems like a hard lesson. I'd write the HOA and ask if they'll at least split the bill with you considering the circumstances and the fact that the repair that would be their responsibility is actually fixed. I only authorize my long-distance tenants to schedule it after I've personally ordered service, and I let the plumber/electrician/handyman etc., know that tenant cannot authorize work, only provide access, and that I will make myself available by phone/text/email, whatever they prefer, to discuss options while there to avoid future service calls if possible. If they had told me it wasn't working, likely in common area, I would have had him cease work, write on service charge that repair was in common area, couldn't fix, and then dealt through the HOA and asked them for reimbursement of the initial repair bill.

You need to have your lawyer send a letter to the plumber not the board. The board wants answers and until they get them there is nothing you can do. The plumber appears to have scre*ed everyone.

You are on the hook.

@Inna Young the HOA is responsible for everybody's money. Their request for a breakdown of the bill is not an unreasonable one - nor is your request that the plumber breakdown the bill for you. In my county it is pretty easy to file a small claims action (and cheap - about $100 for paperwork and papers served). You could ask the HOA to be part of the action. You are out money - they have had common area ripped - up and neither of you know what was done or what you paid for. This is a tough lesson.

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