Who to sue for failure to provide proper services?

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Who to sue for failure to provide proper services?

I own a condominium. We have an HOA and a property management company. Whenever there are necessary repairs to units we call the property management company. They send a contractor into the unit to assess and then ideally schedule a date to come and fix the issue.

A few months ago, there was a water leak coming from a common pipe in the wall. I notified the management company and requested they come fix the issue. After many emails and phone calls, they finally fixed the wall. However, there was also damage to the wood floor. They never addressed this. We tried calling and emailing them numerous times but got the runaround. We had already lost 2 months rent and needed to get the floor fixed, so we had it fixed ourselves. They never followed up on any of it. We filed a small claims suit for failure to provide proper services in order to recoup the money for the floor cost and the 2 months rent lost. They have a long history of not following through with repairs. After filing the suit we received a letter from them stating we are sueing the wrong party and ought to be going after the HOA for the money. Is this true? How is it the HOA’s responsibility if it is the property manager who is not doing his job properly?

Asked on October 24, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You sue both the HOA and the property manager. You don't know yet who is at fault:
1) It could be that the HOA has told the property what to do and the property manager is not doing it; i.e. the property manager is either intentionally or deliberately violating its instructions and so is liable.
2) Or it could be that the HOA, to save money or for some other reason, has told the property manager to not do things which it should be doing. Since the property manager works for the HOA, it cannot do work not authorized by its employer, so if the HOA's instructions, etc. are causing the problems, it would be the HOA which is responsible.
So you sue them both; let one of them prove in court that the other one, not it, is at fault. You may wish to voluntarily dismiss the case "without prejudice" (so with the abiliity to refile; ask the court clerk about the procedure to do this) and then file a new case against HOA & property manager both.


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