19 Feb The Legalese in the Letter
This scenario begins when the condo community was built. Each unit was designed with its own water shut off valve; however, each unit was not given its own water meter. Since the water meters manage water flow for the building, it is impossible to determine when a single unit may be exceeding normal usage.
Fast forward a few years. The water bill arrives and building 102 has costs five times higher than it normally runs. The management company sends a courtesy letter to each unit making them aware of the overage and asking to have the owners check faucets and toilets for leaks. The idea of the letter is just to get everyone to check for running water. The owner’s response to the letter is generally a little confusion and a level of frustration.
Since this could be a possible violation issue, the letters must follow legal standards for violation communications. Instead of a simple note that says, “please make sure your faucets aren’t leaking”, there will be several paragraphs with sections of the CCC&R’s and state statutes included.
The association just wants to get someone to replace a washer on the faucet and isn’t meant to create a negative conversation. Unfortunately, the language can be intimidating to the reader and routinely results in irritated responses.
It’s important for all owners to recognize that the governing body of the association doesn’t have a choice about the letter contents so that means sending you a letter that says a little bit more than “please make sure your faucets aren’t leaking.”
The best thing to do is focus on the goal of the letter. A response is almost always required, and the letter should give direction on whether you need to make a phone call to confirm you’ve checked the plumbing or send a response through an online form.
When you do respond, keep in mind that you’re not being singled out. Compliance, violations, general health and well fare concerns are all identified in the association CC&Rs and the management company is ensuring these rules are being unilaterally applied.
When a letter from the association arrives in your mailbox or e-mail be sure to look for the issue and the best way to answer. Remember the communication is simply meant to solve a problem.
Make a call, have a conversation, come to a solution and enjoy living in your HOA.