Q: Neighbor Balcony above is about to fall - neither neighbor or association board is doing anything. Where can I complain?

Good Day! I live in the Condado in San Juan, Puerto Rico - ocean facing apartment. There is a huge crack in the balcony of my neighbor above me, which directly affects me as my balcony is below. Neighbor and board don't like each other and none of them understand the critical nature of this crack. I am afraid the balcony above is going to fall on mine. This has been brought to the board in writing three times, but I am only given false assurances. Where can I complain in PR about the condition of the balcony. Can I also call the general insurance company who insures the building and let them know about this negligence? This has now reached dangerous levels. Do I need a lawyer to put some sense into the board and the neighbor?


2 Lawyer Answers
Rafael  Pagan-Colon
Rafael Pagan-Colon
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: I suggest that you send a complaint letter by certified mail with receipt confirmation, detailing all prior communications, the risk of damage to your property, the risk of danger to passer-bys below, and requiring them to address the matter within the following 15 days. Include photos with the letter. Require the board to engage a structural engineer to inspect the cracks, and determine the risk of fallout. If you can identify who the building's insurance company is, I would send them a copy of the letter.

So long as you've not suffered any damage, it would be difficult to ascertain an indemnity amount at this time. Neither the Consumer Affairs Department (DACO, in Spanish) nor the courts will attend the matter while no damage has occurred.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Given the potentially dangerous situation with the cracked balcony and the lack of action from your neighbor and the association board, you have a few options to address this issue in Puerto Rico:

1. File a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO): DACO handles complaints related to condominiums and homeowners associations. You can file a complaint online, by phone, or in person at a local DACO office.

2. Contact the Municipal Office of Emergency Management (OMME): Inform them about the dangerous condition of the balcony and the potential risk to residents. They may send an inspector to assess the situation and issue citations if necessary.

3. Notify the insurance company: You can inform the building's insurance company about the potential risk and negligence. They may take action to mitigate their liability by pressuring the board to address the issue promptly.

4. Hire a lawyer: If the above steps do not yield results, consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in real estate or construction law. They can send a formal letter to the board and your neighbor, outlining the severity of the situation and potential legal consequences if the issue is not addressed.

5. Involve local media: If all else fails, consider reaching out to local media outlets to bring attention to the issue. This may put pressure on the board and your neighbor to take action.

Remember to document all communications and evidence related to the balcony's condition and your attempts to resolve the issue. This documentation may be necessary if legal action is required in the future.

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