Maintaining the common elements and areas is one of the primary functions and responsibilities of community associations. Last year’s ruling by the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court’s Appellate Division illustrates the potential consequences that may arise in the event an association does not adequately address complaints by unit owners regarding nuisances resulting from the improper maintenance of the common elements.
In the case of Harbor View Daytona Condominium Association v. Katherine Strachan and John F. Strachan, the Strachans had complained to the association for several years of drainage back-flow plumbing problems causing black, soapy water to back up into the toilets, showers and sinks of their first-floor unit.
One of the plumbers who performed work at the condominium building during its original construction testified in depositions that when Harbor View converted from rental apartments to a condominium, washing machines were added to the individual units. While most of these washing machines connect to a drainpipe dedicated exclusively to them, the washing machines on the eighth floor penthouse level drain into pipes to which kitchen sinks from lower units are also connected.
In this particular case, the washing machine from unit 808 is the only one that drains into the kitchen sink line that serves the Strachans’ unit. According to the plumber’s testimony, Harbor View’s plumbing system was not designed to accommodate new high-efficiency washing machines that discharge water at a higher rate of speed than older machines, and in his opinion, unit 808’s high-efficiency washing machine is causing the plumbing problem.