Help Me Howard: Condo AC Line

Article and Video Courtesy of Channel 7

By Help Me Howard

Published October 8, 2013

 Watch VIDEO


If you live in a condo you have probably heard the rule of thumb before: If it's behind the walls, it's the associations responsibility. On your side, it's your problem. That's what most people think, but one association is refusing to pay for a problem. So lets bring in Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser to see if they can say no.

WSVN -- If you want to know how things run at Cutler Creek Condos, just ask Donald Noennich who moved in when the place was built in 1976. 

Donald Noennich: "When I first moved in here I was paying $32 a month maintenance. What we pay now honey $319 a month. I am not living on Star Island."

Donald can laugh about the maintenance fee but not about his air conditioner.


Donald Noennich: "I looked at the temperature it was 79 degrees and I had it set to 74."

To make a long story short, Donald and Wendy's air conditioner was broken. A repairman concluded a line in the walls was leaking.


Donald Noennich: "The pipe is not inside its goes through the walls, down through our wall, down into the people beneath us."

Now after living here 37 years, Donald knows the basic condo rule about responsibility.

Donald Noennich: "If it's outside the wall I pay for the problem. If it's inside the wall they pay for the problem."


Wendy called the condo association. They said they weren't responsible for the $1,900 estimate to replace the leaky line so she called their insurance company.

Donald Noennich: "Homeowners insurance said its inside the wall the association should pay for it."

The associating still didn't budge, refusing to fix the line leaving Donald and Wendy steaming in the hot South Florida summer.

Donald Noennich: "Kind of like 91 degrees here at night, kind of like on the warm side. Got a little dog she's looking at me huffing and puffing. She's going, 'Daddy what's the problem?'"

After two and a half weeks, Donald says Wendy's parents felt bad for them and loaned them $1,900 to replace the leaky line. But Donald doesn't want the association to get away with this.

Donald Noennich: "I want to get my money from our association. I want them to pay for it, which they should pay for it. They should pay for it."

Well Howard, the leaky line is behind the wall so does the condo association have to repair it?

Howard Finkelstein: "Donald is right. If its behind the wall, normally the association is responsible. But we looked at the condo documents and they gave themselves an out by saying that they are responsible if the pipe in the wall serves more than one unit. If this case, the line only services Donald's air conditioner meaning Donald has to pay for it."

I spoke to the property manager at Cutler Creek. He told me they gave Donald and Wendy a break making a huge exception, allowing them to run the AC line outside the wall, instead of forcing them of going inside the walls where it used to be. He said that saved them a lot of headaches and a lot of money. And its understandable why Donald couldn't find the clause making him responsible in the condo documents. They are 121 pages long saying the association was not responsible, was in the middle of page 21 in small print in a single paragraph but its worth it for an owner to suffer thru the documents.

Howard Finkelstein: "Get a copy of your association documents. They can charge you but you need that paperwork to know what you are responsible for and what they are responsible for. Those documents could save you a lot of money or fighting a battle you wont win."

Donald and Wendy fought the battle, lost and are out $1,900 dollars but at least they aren't steaming anymore.

Donald Noennich: "I just need to get a cool after two and half weeks its finally cool. My dogs happy."

Patrick Fraser: "I think they like that dog. And something else, associations have insurance if its normal wear and tear like Donald had, they don't have to pay but if its caused by a fire or a hurricane then the associations insurance would have to cover it. So check into that as well."

Worries got you feeling walled? Want a cool solution? Contact us, we aren't part of an association I don't think they would like a reporter and lawyer hanging around.