Owner of infested unit won’t let exterminator in

Q: I live in an adult condominium. Several of our unit owners complain about roaches. We have had a pest service treat several of the units but they keep coming back. We know where they are coming from — one unit —but the owner will not let the pest control service in to treat. He keeps saying “not till I clean it up.” He told me that he sprays the roaches coming from his cabinets.

We need to get in with professionals before we have a big infestation. I have called several government agencies but no one will tell me what to do. Can you give me advice? Our documents state we can enter if we think there is a problem.

S.Z., Miami

A: The condominium act also allows the association to enter units to make repairs (FS 718.111). I would first suggest that you send a certified letter notifying the owner that he must allow the pest control company to enter his unit on a particular day and time. It should allow him a few days’ notice.

Explain in your letter that if he does not allow the pest control company to enter his unit, any charges will be placed against his unit. Also explain that if he does not allow entry, the matter will be turned over to the association attorney and any legal cost will also be applied to his unit.

Schedule a time and date with the pest control company and if the owner fails to grant entry, notify the owner of the charges that have been created by his failure to grant entry.

Discuss the matter with your attorney about forcible entry. This is called “self-help” and requires special guidance by the attorney.

Q: Our previous board failed to pay the premium on our general liability insurance for two years. The board failed to make repairs to the common elements — we had a water leak for three years and had very excessive water bills, and they failed to use money that was collected for a special assessment to pay the bills. We have suffered losses totaling about $60,000.

Is this breach of fiduciary responsibility covered under Officers and Director’s insurance? What action can we take to recover our losses? We sustained about $40,000.00 in losses because we were not covered by general liability insurance. Owners paid for this coverage as it was included in our budget every year but the policy would be bound then canceled for non-payment. Does our property manager have any liability for any of this?

D.W., Miami

A: Did the developer sell the property as a carefree life? Did you believe that you are moving into a carefree community where you had no responsibilities? There ain’t no such thing! The unfortunate matter is that a majority of owners do not want to believe that they are responsible and they can let others do it.

You seem to have serious concerns but the big question is, do your neighbors feel the same way? Yes, the board is in violation of its duties, responsibilities, and fiduciary obligations.

I’m not sure that the Officers and Director’s insurance will cover the board’s neglect. You have the option of suing the board and filing a complaint with the state, but what would best serve you and the community is to elect new directors. Take it as a learning situation that when you elect the wrong people it may cost you dollars and loss of property value. It is my belief that the apathy with our citizens today is a major cause of loss of value.

As to the manager, without full knowledge of his duties and with only the evidence you have presented, he may have some responsibility in the loss you discuss but in truth managers rarely have responsibility, just duties.