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Condo sent bill for maintenance that was unscheduled and not carried out

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seanc

Member
At 7pm there was a knock on my door, it was a board member. He asked if I had observed any flooding in my unit. He said that the ceiling in the workout room was leaking. I said we were running the washing machine & I would check. I looked under the machine and did not observe water. I relayed this to Mr X and he left. At this time, my daughter was in the bathtub, but there was no water on the floor.

Around 9pm Mr X knocked again and said that the leak had stopped, and the next time that I ran the washing machine I should look downstairs to see if I observed any leaking. I agreed and he left.

I mentioned to my wife that the leak, excluding internal piping, could only come from two places: the washing machine or the bathtub. I surmised that it could be from the bath overflow valve, but I would have to fill up the tub far over the valve to test the theory, which I declined to do.

Sunday the ceiling in the workout room was dry and no leaking occurred. Also, my wife left town for the week.

Monday the ceiling in the workout room was dry and no leaking occurred.

Monday I received a call from my wife that building staff had called and wanted her to let a plumbing company who was at our door, to inspect the unit. This was impossible as my wife was 100 miles away, and I was at work. The building does not have keys to individual units, and can only breach the door if an emergency is in progress.

In the Condo declaration, it states: “The board of agents may enter any unit for necessary repairs. Such entry shall be made with as little inconvenience to the owner as practicable….”. I would think notification would fall into this category.

We then received a bill for 250 dollars from the Management Company for the plumbing visit that did not occur. If I file a suit in Small Claims Court, is it against the Condo Board, the Management Company or both?

Thanks for any input.
 


Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
At 7pm there was a knock on my door, it was a board member. He asked if I had observed any flooding in my unit. He said that the ceiling in the workout room was leaking. I said we were running the washing machine & I would check. I looked under the machine and did not observe water. I relayed this to Mr X and he left. At this time, my daughter was in the bathtub, but there was no water on the floor.

Around 9pm Mr X knocked again and said that the leak had stopped, and the next time that I ran the washing machine I should look downstairs to see if I observed any leaking. I agreed and he left.

I mentioned to my wife that the leak, excluding internal piping, could only come from two places: the washing machine or the bathtub. I surmised that it could be from the bath overflow valve, but I would have to fill up the tub far over the valve to test the theory, which I declined to do.

Sunday the ceiling in the workout room was dry and no leaking occurred. Also, my wife left town for the week.

Monday the ceiling in the workout room was dry and no leaking occurred.

Monday I received a call from my wife that building staff had called and wanted her to let a plumbing company who was at our door, to inspect the unit. This was impossible as my wife was 100 miles away, and I was at work. The building does not have keys to individual units, and can only breach the door if an emergency is in progress.

In the Condo declaration, it states: “The board of agents may enter any unit for necessary repairs. Such entry shall be made with as little inconvenience to the owner as practicable….”. I would think notification would fall into this category.

We then received a bill for 250 dollars from the Management Company for the plumbing visit that did not occur. If I file a suit in Small Claims Court, is it against the Condo Board, the Management Company or both?

Thanks for any input.
Why would you file a suit? If you don't pay the bill, they will pursue you.
 

seanc

Member
I live in Seattle. Small claims court website says: "Any individual, business, partnership, or corporation (with a couple of exceptions) may bring a small claims suit for recovery of money only for an amount up to $5,000. "

I have no knowledge of how to dispute this bill legally. Is small claims court not the proper avenue?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I live in Seattle. Small claims court website says: "Any individual, business, partnership, or corporation (with a couple of exceptions) may bring a small claims suit for recovery of money only for an amount up to $5,000. "

I have no knowledge of how to dispute this bill legally. Is small claims court not the proper avenue?
Courts are (generally) about money. At this point, you aren't out any money, so there's no reason to sue. The way to the dispute the bill is to notify them that you don't intend to pay and explain your reasoning. I would do this by certified mail - not voice, not texting, not email.
 

seanc

Member
Courts are (generally) about money. At this point, you aren't out any money, so there's no reason to sue. The way to the dispute the bill is to notify them that you don't intend to pay and explain your reasoning. I would do this by certified mail - not voice, not texting, not email.
Then they either acquiesce, send me to collections, or place a lien on my condo and I do...?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Then they either acquiesce, send me to collections, or place a lien on my condo and I do...?
Well...since you're asking me for my opinion on what you should do...I would say to send them the letter disputing the bill and why. If they don't retract the bill, then I'd probably offer to split the cost. If they refuse that, then I'd probably write a check for the full amount and hand it to them while cursing them under my breath. $250 is a small enough amount that it would be easier (I daresay, better) to simply pay it then risk collections or a lien on the condo.
 

seanc

Member
Well...since you're asking me for my opinion on what you should do...I would say to send them the letter disputing the bill and why. If they don't retract the bill, then I'd probably offer to split the cost. If they refuse that, then I'd probably write a check for the full amount and hand it to them while cursing them under my breath. $250 is a small enough amount that it would be easier (I daresay, better) to simply pay it then risk collections or a lien on the condo.
Can I pay the bill & then dispute it in small claims court?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Can I pay the bill & then dispute it in small claims court?
Yes, but it might put you at a disadvantage unless you clearly document that you are paying it under protest (or something to that effect) and that you fully intend to ask the court to address the matter (or something to that effect).

Have you even TALKED to the association about it?
 

PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
Anyone can sue anyone for just about anything all it takes is some time and the filing fee.

That said, they may well counterclaim against you for any damage you caused. This sentence you wrote is particularly troubling if, in fact, it was your tub leaking. "I surmised that it could be from the bath overflow valve, but I would have to fill up the tub far over the valve to test the theory, which I declined to do."
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
To be clear - the bill is for the service call during which the plumber couldn't gain access to your unit, right? It's not some fine imposed by the association, is it?
 

seanc

Member
To be clear - the bill is for the service call during which the plumber couldn't gain access to your unit, right? It's not some fine imposed by the association, is it?
Correct. The leaking was very minimal. A few cups of water onto the rubberized workout room floor. There is no discoloration on the ceiling (edit cement ceiling), bubbling of paint, etc. They, knowing full well they could not access my unit, called a plumber to inspect my unit at noon on a Monday. They did not call or email us to let us know they were going to have our unit inspected by a plumber. It is absolutely absurd.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Correct. The leaking was very minimal. A few cups of water onto the rubberized workout room floor. There is no discoloration on the ceiling (edit cement ceiling), bubbling of paint, etc. They, knowing full well they could not access my unit, called a plumber to inspect my unit at noon on a Monday. They did not call or email us to let us know they were going to have our unit inspected by a plumber. It is absolutely absurd.
Thanks - I just wanted to make sure I had the correct picture of the situation.
 

seanc

Member
Yes, but it might put you at a disadvantage unless you clearly document that you are paying it under protest (or something to that effect) and that you fully intend to ask the court to address the matter (or something to that effect).

Have you even TALKED to the association about it?
They sent a brief email saying they would respond to my email, but is has been several days. I am not sure what is going on. I think it would be straightforward for them to say "You're right, we should have made made sure you were available to unlock your unit." This building has had some real screaming matches at the annual meeting. Factions of people against each other, I stay out of it. I need to move.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I think it would be straightforward for them to say "You're right, we should have made made sure you were available to unlock your unit."
It's entirely possible that the person who is answering the email doesn't have the authority to make such a statement or to decide on the board's position on the matter. I would follow up - maybe in person and/or by mail (not email, not telephone, not texts).
 
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