Agent

Reroofing townhouse is like pulling teeth

Steps to take when adjoining neighbor won't sign off on job

DEAR BARRY: We live in a complex of townhouses with two living units in each building. The units were built in 1983. The shingle roofs were rated for 20 years, but very few of them have been replaced. Since the townhouses are attached, the owners of adjoining units must agree on the installation of new roofing. Our bylaws are so broad that it’s hard to enforce replacement of the roofs when the neighbor doesn’t attend meetings and won’t respond to letters.

A special meeting was announced for the purpose of discussing the roofs, but only one owner besides me showed up. I’ve been asking my neighbor about this for the past 10 years and am worried about interior water damage if the old roofing begins to leak. What do you recommend? –Vera

DEAR VERA: Your neighbors don’t seem to mind the risk of water damage from eventual roof leakage. If common sense and self interest don’t persuade them, you may need some legal advice. A strong letter from an attorney might rattle their cages enough to arouse some action. A real estate attorney can also advise you regarding legal options that are available.

For example, you might be able to replace your half of the roof and let your neighbors take their chances. If HOA rules prevent this, legal notice could be given of your intent to proceed unless you receive reasonable cooperation.

As a last resort, you might consider filing a lawsuit. That’s something your neighbors would not be able to ignore, but then you would have to live with permanently strained relations.

One way or another, your roof needs to be replaced, and so does theirs.

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DEAR BARRY: My daughter and her husband are in the process of purchasing a brand-new home. They hired a home inspector and he found mold in two areas of the basement. The inspector also tested the air quality in the basement and the general living area, and both locations showed high levels of mold spores. The builder has agreed to hire a certified mold resolution company, but my daughter is concerned about the health of their baby. Should they proceed with the purchase and trust that the mold has been eliminated, or do you think they should terminate the contract? –Marian

DEAR MARIAN: Completion of the purchase should be contingent on the degree of success in resolving the mold problem. Therefore, two conditions must be satisfied:

1. The air should be retested by your daughter’s inspector after the mold company completes its work. The test should reveal acceptable mold levels in all areas of the building.

2. The moisture that caused the mold must also be addressed. The source of the moisture should be determined, and prevention of continued moisture intrusion should be made certain. If additional ventilation is needed in the basement, that should be provided. If ground drainage is an issue, this should be corrected by a drainage specialist.

If these two main issues are adequately addressed, your daughter and her family should be able to move into a mold-free home.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.

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