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Condo deck collapses, leaving owners in dilemma

Questions over who is responsible for repairs
Posted at 12:57 PM, Oct 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-03 13:08:43-04

Many people move to condominium so they won't have the hassle and costs of owning a home.

But what if the condo complex develops a major, expensive problem? That's the trouble facing some Northern Kentucky condo owners, after their deck collapsed this past weekend.

Nordelle Wainz couldn't believe what she was seeing at the Signal Hill condos in Wilder.

"As soon as I came out, I heard this scream," she said. "I looked up and the patio was starting to come down."

The three-level deck was pulling away from the building, and starting to fall.    

"The woman upstairs from me, she's an 80-year-old woman, was out on the patio with her daughter,"  Wainz said. "The patio started to collapse, her daughter grabbed her and pulled her in."

Miraculously. no one was hurt. 

The Wilder Fire Department has not released any possible cause of the collapse. Wainz, however, said repair workers told her the concrete footers may have pulled away from the building, stressing the beams.

She believes it may be the result of three years' worth of ground slippage outside her building. Her first floor patio has pulled away from the foundation more than an inch, she said.

"We have problems with our walls cracking, we used to have a bigger yard, and the yard went down the hill," she said.

Owners faced with dilemma

Land slippage is one of the most serious issues you can face as a condo owner, because unlike a dead tree or leaking roof there is no simple fix, and it can often become a legal nightmare.

Typically in condo communities...

  • Homeowners are responsible for interior issues.
  • The HOA or condo board is responsible for exterior problems (and has a special fund set up for repairs).

But entryway and balcony issues can be a no-man's land, caught between owners and the board, requiring legal action.

Wainz says she's been unable to get any help for her cracking walls, despite complaining for two years.

"I was told if I didn't like it here, that I should sell my condo," she said.  "But you can't sell a condo with cracks in the walls."

The management company, Vertex Properties of Florence, Kentucky, told WCPO they cannot comment on the balcony, and would only say they will be meeting with the HOA about it. We were unable to reach the complex's HOA president for comment.

The deck issue affects just one building in the complex, that is on the edge of a hill. Other buildings appear to be fine, with no balcony or patio issues.

Unfortunately, condo owners facing serious repair bills outside their unit often find their only hope is to hire an attorney, and look into legal action to get the issue fixed.

At that point, the condo they bought for low maintenance costs and convenience can turn into as much of a headache as owning an older home.

As always don't waste your money.

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8:47 PM, Oct 17, 2018

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