(Recap) A familiar scene unfolds at many association meetings. Disgruntled unit owners come to the meeting, complaining of leaks, roof problems, mold and myriad of other issues. Some owners demand that the building and the leaks be completely repaired immediately. Others say that the association cannot afford to do significant repairs, and that special assessments will bankrupt them. Others say that the developer should be held responsible to fix these problems. The developer no longer returns the association’s phone calls, emails or faxes, and despite the Board’s invitation, has chosen not to attend a meeting in months. Board members are rightfully frustrated and confused about how to best fulfill their duties to the Association and the owners. Advice pours in from all sides. Seemingly conflicting information is received by different members of the Board. The Board is bombarded with questions and “facts” from owners about how to proceed. Below are some helpful responses to some of the most common of those “facts”:
“Where is the municipal building inspector in all of this?”
Most people assume that the local building inspector that the local building inspector has liability when the building ultimately turns out to have been built incorrectly. That assumption is wrong. Building inspectors are generally immune from liability for mere negligence. The association would have to prove that the municipal official was deliberately indifferent or was engaged in some fraud or other misconduct in order to collect damages from the municipality. Moreover, building inspectors aren’t responsible for ensuring that the association’s buildings are built properly, in accordance with the architectural plans or manufacturers installation instructions. They are responsible for inspecting the foundation, framing, plumbing, and electrical components of the building. They are not responsible, for example, for reviewing the installation of the roof, the windows, or the stucco.