DEAR BOB: I own a rental condo. The owner of the unit above mine requested and was granted approval by the homeowners’ association directors to install wood floors. I objected, but the condo directors still granted approval. Now my condo tenant is complaining about the noise from the upstairs condo. It sounds like the upstairs resident is in the same room. I have complained to the management company, with no results. The decision of the directors to allow the wood floors upstairs has made an impact on renting my condo. The condo board and the management company refuse to respond. What should I do? –Patty C.
DEAR PATTY: I suggest you consult a local real estate attorney who is experienced with condominium law. At this point, it sounds like you haven’t suffered any actual damages. But if you lose a tenant because of the noise from the upstairs unit, then you can prove your loss.
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Have you talked with the upstairs resident to ask that rugs be placed on top of the wood floor? That could dull or eliminate the sound, even if you have to pay for the rugs.
As a last resort, you could sue the upstairs owner for maintaining a private nuisance if you lose your tenant due to the noisy floor. However, I don’t think the homeowner’s association has any liability to you for granting approval of the wood floor.
WITHOUT COMPLETION DATE IN HOME CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT, NO LIABILITY TO HOMEOWNER
DEAR BOB: We hired a custom-home builder to build our dream home. Before hiring him, we checked his references very carefully and everyone praised him. The contract says he was to complete our new home in 110 days. That means our home should have been finished last summer. But today it is only 50 percent complete. However, the contract says the builder cannot be held liable for any extra cost incurred by not completing by the deadline. We did not include any penalty if the builder was late. So far this extension has cost us extra for our construction loan and additional rental fees for our current residence. What can we do? –Tony A.
DEAR TONY: Without a penalty clause in your construction contract with the builder, you have no practical recourse against him. I’ll bet the builder prepared that contract.
After the house is completed, however, you should have a “discussion” with the builder about how much his delay cost you. But be aware if you withhold final payment from him, he could record a mechanics’ lien against your property so that is not a good solution.
Consultation with a local real estate attorney who is experienced with construction law is suggested to learn if there might be any recourse other than a lawsuit for your damages.
CAN HEIR NAMED IN WILL CLAIM TAX DEDUCTIONS?
DEAR BOB: I have a friend who has been willed a house she lives in. She is paying all the bills, the mortgage payments, etc. Can she deduct the mortgage interest and property taxes on her 2006 income tax returns? –Joan D.
DEAR JOAN: If your friend holds title to her principal residence, then she can claim the mortgage interest and property taxes she pays.
However, if she is merely named in the property owner’s will and that person hasn’t died yet, she isn’t the property owner and isn’t entitled to any tax deductions for mortgage interest and property tax she pays on that property. For full details, she should consult her tax adviser.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to Buy Fixer-Upper Houses with Little or No Cash for Fun and Fortune,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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