Dear PoP – I Need a Lawyer

Photo by PoPville flickr user jmusmc85

“Dear PoP,

I purchased a condo unit in the last year that is still under warranty. I sustained a significant amount of damage during the January snow storm that was determined to be caused by the original work or lack there of by the developer.I have notified the developer and the building management company via certified mail of the damage.

The building management company has been communicating with the developer on my behalf — even though I never delegated that responsibility. In fact the developer never responded directly to me to address my certified letter.

I need to hire an attorney who is familiar with the nuances of DC real estate law and the condominium code. Do your readers have any recommendations?”

I’m just curious – is it possible that the building management company can resolve the situation? Anyone deal with a situation like this before? If not, anyone know of a good lawyer for a situation like this?

16 Comment

  • I had to deal with a real estate issue. My propoerty was sold in a tax sale without my knowledge. Mortgage Co. failed to pay prop taxes. I hired Kass, Mitek & Kass. Was pretty happy. Everything was resolved and the mortgage co reimbursed me for all my legal costs.

    • I’ve also used KMK in the past and would again if necessary. I was pleased with them (though they are not cheap)and they certainly know their stuff.

    • Also recommend KMK – they’re our condo association’s lawyers of record.

  • Sounds like a plan. You need a lawyer that can have charges drummed up against these people and maybe get them driven out of DC altogether.

    • Sometimes you don’t need to do something so extreme. But if the case warrants, then yes, I would be all for hiring the type of lawyer who would make life miserable for the developer. So deeply miserable that they will be willing to do anything to make the problem go away. That’s how justice works in Washington DC.

  • Good luck…best to level set your expectations. I was involved in a multi-year battle with our condo developer who also happened to be a lawyer. The city never inspected the work, and the work was so shoddy. Multiple code violations, roof leaked, among many other things. The developer/lawyer overlord shirked all responsibility and buired us in paperwork after we retained a laywer. In addition to consulting legal counsel, I suggest you engage your City Councilmember. I hate to say it, but Jim Graham was very helpful in getting us a settlement with the developer/laywer scum bag. We used Scheuermann & Menist ( John Scheuermann wrote the DC Condo Law. While he wasn’t able to really help us in the long run, he knows his stuff and actually refunded our retainer after he was unable to help us. Best of luck!!

  • There are some great lawyers in this town, but many if not most of them are rather second rate. So please be careful!

  • Also beware that your management company might be charging you and/or the association lots of money for communicating with the developer. Our condo management company – Armstrong Management – recently hit us up for over $9,000.00 ($90.00/hour) for dealing with contractor proposals that they considered outside their normal scope of work.

    Ask them directly, get something in writing. Good luck.

    • In that situation, you also must sue the management company out of existence.

      • Unfortunately, our lawyers said the contract was not specific enough. We are looking for recommendations for a new management company however, and will strongly advise against Armstrong Management.

  • Your condo association may have a contract with the property management company that allows them to coordinate with the developer on your behalf. You might want to check your condo agreement and bi-laws.

  • I’m not surprised that your management company is in contact with the developer – that’s the kind of thing they’re SUPPOSED to do. Any work that needs to be done that comes out of the reserves would have to be dealt with by the management company and approved by the condo board.

    Have a sit-down with someone on the board or someone on the management team (or both). It actually sounds like they’re doing everything they should be doing especially if the damage is to your ‘common elements’ or was caused by your common elements… that would need to be addressed through your master insurance policy which would be coordinated by your management company.

  • Also, your condo board might have a lawyer on retainer. Some do. So in that case that might be a person to consult.

    I feel like you’re jumping the gun a little trying to get outside counsel. I know you want to get your damage addressed but you need to find out how that works – if it’s coming out of the reserves, for example, the management company needs to get bids for the work, etc. It doesn’t always happen overnight.

    Good luck.

  • I had great experience with Ackerman Legal. They’re located in Dupont Circle, and they helped me with a homeowner/condo issue before. I think they’re a general practice firm. Regardless, I would call Glen – he’s the managing partner – at 202.309.0219. He’ll help you out.

  • We had some issues with a developer leaving us in a lurch and got good advice from Griffin & Murphy in Dupont Circle (Mark Griffin specifically). They specialize in this sort of thing and have represented both the developer and the owner, so they really know the ins and outs of real estate litigation. Unfortunately we didn’t get the good news we hoped for, but it really helped us understand our position had we decided to litigate.

  • I will also second the recommendation of Jack Scheuermann. Very knowledgeable and trustworthy.

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