No Power to Condo

Article and Video Courtesy of Channel 7 News Miami

By Patrick Fraser

Published November 11, 2019



The association hired a plumber to repair a problem. Instead, they cut the power line to a condo — and when the condo owner wanted it repaired, he says the association wouldn’t do it the way he needed. So he asked Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser: Does an association have to repair a problem the way you want, or the way the way they want.

You have probably heard people say, “I wish I owned rental properties, so I could sit back and let the money roll in.”

Yeah, but…

Abel Labrada, power cut to condo: “You get a lot of issues that you need to resolve for the tenant.”

We started talking to Abel outside a condo he owns and rents out. When we walked into the hot dark place, you could see the problem.

Abel Labrada: “No electricity at all.”

Turns out some plumbers were doing work for the association on the other side of the property. They dug too far.

Abel Labrada: “In the process of cutting the tile, they cut the power cables underground.”

The power to all 27 condos runs in pipes under the building. After Abel’s power went out, he contacted the association.

Abel Labrada: “They said they would fix it.”

With no electricity, Abel’s tenant moved out, and the association’s repairman started working outside, then had to stop.

Patrick Fraser: “They did try to fix it, you said?”

Abel Labrada: “They did.”

Patrick Fraser: “But?”

Abel Labrada: “But they didn’t have the permits. I wasn’t going to let someone inside the unit without permits.”

The association then got a permit, but Abel says he was not happy with the way they wanted to restore the power.

Abel Labrada: “They want to install a visible line through there, to go into the soft ceiling and to go into the panel.”

It would also involve drilling a hole in the condo wall. Abel said no — do it the more expensive way like this: back through the underground pipe, pull out the bad line and pull in a new electrical cable.

Abel Labrada: “To fix the line out there, and not tear up my apartment and possibly leave me with a code violation.”

And that’s when everything stopped.

No electricity in the condo, no rent money for Abel, no work to restore the power.

Abel Labrada: “I never expected for this to last this long.”

Well, Howard, let’s do a two-for-one with the questions. Does the association or the person who cut the electrical line have to pay to repair it, and do they have to do it the way Abel wants it done?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes, the association or the person who cut the electrical line has to pay to repair it. As for how they run the electrical line, the association usually gets to decide, but if Abel’s choice is viable, then they have to repair it the way he wants.”

I spoke to the association president and property manager. It took a few days, but they found an electrician who would do the work the way Abel wanted.

Abel Labrada: “So I am excited. Work is finally underway.”

The power is back on, but another question, Howard. Does anyone have to pay for Abel’s lost rent money or his tenant’s expenses?

Howard Finkelstein: “In the beginning, no. The association has a reasonable amount of time to repair the problem, but after that, they have to pay. Two months is not reasonable, meaning they owe Abel and his tenant money.”

The association is now talking to Abel about how much they will reimburse him, leaving him a happy landlord.

Abel Labrada: “I am extremely glad that I called Help Me Howard.”

Nice that we could help you, Abel. Now, if you have a dispute with your condo association, and you aren’t sure if they have to fix a problem or you have to pay to fix it, look in the condo documents. The answer should be in there.

Feeling powerless to solve a problem? Wanna feel electric about a solution? Contact us. We don’t need a permit to help you see the light, just your permission.