Upper Marlboro, MD asked in Consumer Law, Personal Injury, Arbitration / Mediation Law and Small Claims for Maryland

Q: I own a town house located in Prince George County, Maryland in a community governed by a Homeowners Association.

Rain water from neighbors home has caused mole and water damage in my basement. HOA CC&R, Art. X, Maintenance, authorizes board to repair neighbors property, collect costs, place a lien and foreclosure for owner who has failed to maintain property to standards. I can not repair my damage because neighbor will not fix the problem of damaged siding. Neighbors insurance carrier has settle damage with me but if I repair my property and the neighbor doesn't repair problem insurance carrier will not payout on the same problem. Neighbors insurance agent says that the insured does not want to pay $500 deductible to have property repaired. BOD notified neighbor to repair property within 11 days to no avail. Mole problem is festering, each rain causes more water damage. BOD fails to take further action against homeowner via Restriction Article X. Mole spores are present and mildewed. What are my options? my property is becoming "sick".

2 Lawyer Answers
Thomas A. Grossman
Thomas A. Grossman
Answered

A: After a mediation, you can sue the HOA for failure to enforce its' CCRs.

Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: How much money do you want to spend? You can sue the neighbor based upon a nuisance theory for damages, plus request injunctive relief, but if the neighbor refuses or fails to fix the problem, it is unclear whether a court would issue an order allowing you to enter upon the neighbor's property, have your own contractor (at your expense) fix their property, then enter a judgment in your favor to reimburse you for the cost of repairs. You won't get your legal fees awarded, and it's an expensive piece of litigation, so you'd be out of pocket quite a bit. Perhaps you pay a lawyer to send a stern letter, but if the neighbor wouldn't respond to the BOD, then you may get nowhere with a lawyer's letter either. Maybe it would help to have a mold remediation company come and give a cost estimate to treat for mold spores, plus obtain your insurance company's repair estimate in advance, and if you attach those cost estimates to your lawyer's letter and tell the neighbor you will be suing them for these costs when the damage repeats itself and your insurance refuses to pay a second time, then maybe they will act. Perhaps you sue the HOA to force them to act and repair the property, but it is not clear to me that you can force an HOA to act.

This part is not legal advice, and may invite retaliation or a defamation suit: Erect a large sign in your front yard with an arrow pointing next door and your neighbor's name and state his refusal to fix his property is causing mold and property damage to yours. So long as it's true, and you can prove it, it's not defamatory. Don't use insulting or derogatory names. Maybe he'll decide to do the right thing in exchange for removing the sign. As an alternative, have you tried to talk to and reason with the neighbor? It's a bit old fashioned, but in prior eras it was a common method to resolve disputes. I understand matters may have degenerated beyond such a quaint fix, but if there's a chance, it would be the cheapest and most effective route to solving the problem. Plus it will remove further aggravation and bitterness between you.

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