TL;DR: I live in a condo and a majority owner turned off the furnace which heats our crawlspace. Our pipes froze and I would like to explore legal actions to resolve this issue.
Hi Everyone, I am in a rather precarious position and am seeking some opinions regarding potential legal actions surrounding some recent events at the condominium complex that I live in.
- I am an owner (new owner) of one suite at this condominium complex (second floor of building) and am a member of the condo board
- The condo complex is located in Alberta, Canada
- The condo complex is 'unique' in that the entire ground floor is owned by one owner, who we will call "John"
- The ground floor unit, owned by John, has a natural gas furnace which heats his units as well as a common crawlspace overhanging a parking lot
- All other condo units contain baseboard heaters and wall air units; natural gas heating is much less expensive than electrical.
- Our condo unit is one such unit on the second floor which overhangs this parking lot
- The common crawlspace contains plumbing for our unit, as well as several other units on the second floor
- Years ago, before we purchased this unit, John decided that he no longer wanted to heat the crawlspace for the second floor tenants, so he blocked off the vents leading to the shared crawlspace. John demanded $1000 monthly as payment for heating the crawlspace; at the time, this was refused.
- Where we live in Alberta, the weather can reach -30C during the wintertime. Pipes can and will freeze.
- Last week, our shower drain froze due to lack of heat in the crawlspace.
- It is our understanding that John is a particularly difficult individual, and has been sued in the past (by our condo board) in order to receive condominium fees backpay which he had owed over the years.
My Next Step:
- Start a dialogue with 'John'. Perhaps he can be reasoned with and will simply unblock the air vents.
- Determine a fair rate for the condo board to pay John monthly to heat the crawlspace
1. What legal recourse can be pursued if John refuses to open up the furnace vents? The crawlspace is a mutually shared asset, and as far as I can tell, John is actively putting our building in danger by allowing pipes to freeze. This can lead to other issues as the pipes are located directly overtop of a parking lot.
It's also incredibly annoying. Our floor was 8C for all of last week, and our electricity bill just came in at $316 for the past month (for only two of us).
2. Are you aware of any similar cases? If so, can you please cite them? I could not successfully 'Google' any situations similar to this.
Thank you for your attentiveness :)