Sunday, May 22, 2016

Could defective pipes be the cause of unexplained water leaks in your building?

Unexplained water leaks are an unfortunate fact of life for far too many high-rise communities.  While your board and members may feel there is nothing to be done other than regular repairs and perhaps a prayer for good luck, the fact is that buildings constructed in Florida between the years 2003-2010 may contain defective pipes and, if your building received a Certificate of Occupancy between 2006 and 2010, you may still have a cause of action to resolve the problem once and for all.
Allied, a division of Tyco, manufactured metal vertical water risers that were joined to horizontal runs of CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride) pipe in many high-rise buildings. CPVC is a thermoplastic which is produced by chlorinating polyvinyl resin and is used most often in hot and cold water pipes. Often it is the CPVC pipes that service units off of the main risers and into units. Most frequently, these are fire sprinkler pipes.
Allied (or ABF piping) was used in buildings during the time period of 2003 through a portion of 2010.  When used together, the CPVC pipe deteriorates at a more rapid pace than expected which, in turn, causes leaks.  At some point, Allied became aware that there was a problem with the incompatibility between the ABF and the CPVC pipes and stopped using this combination in early 2010.
If your building was constructed between 2003-2010 and has this combination of ABF and metal piping and CPVC piping, the failure will ultimately occur even if it has not yet happened. While you do not need to be a high-rise to have this combination (it has been discovered in HOA clubhouses and low to mid-rise condominiums and cooperatives) it is much more prevalent in high-rise structures.
My law firm, Becker & Poliakoff, is investigating and pursuing these claims on behalf of our clients throughout Florida and elsewhere in the U.S.
How can you tell if you have this combination?
Often, you can confirm if you have the defective pipe combination by simply observing the pipes in locations where such observation is readily accessible. You will see the ABF or Allied markings on the pipes and should be able to see the joinder of metal pipes to plastic or CPVC piping. If not, our experts (some from MIT and others who are local engineers) can visit your community to readily determine if the problem exists in your building.
Who is responsible for this problem?
There are two classes of claims i) class action claims against the manufacturers of the pipe and ii) claims against developers and contractors. If the Board does not pursue these parties, then ultimately the Board or the members will be responsible to make repairs as the leaks surface over time.
How long do you have to address this problem?
The statute of repose, which is the longest time frame you have to resolve the issue, is ten (10) years from the completion of your building.
For more information on this defective pipe problem and how to solve it, please contact me at defectivepiping@bplegal.com or visit our website at http://www.DefectivePiping.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why you need to listen to the dissenting voices in your Community

In my home community, a recent vote establishing a reserve for our roads had at least one of my neighbors seeing red.  While the vast majority of owners in my HOA (including me) wanted to fund the reserve to ensure money would be available for future road repairs and maintenance, Susan saw no point in putting that much money away for a rainy day. She asked questions (repeatedly) and tried to convince others to vote down the question. Ultimately, the reserve vote passed despite Susan's many efforts to derail it. While she may have raised the blood pressure of some people, I saw the value in having Susan's voice heard. Many people serving on community association boards these days previously served on corporate boards or in leadership capacities in their professional careers. One of the first things leadership training establishes is that discordant voices in an organization can be extremely beneficial to growth and the ultimate success of that organization.  Think of all the highly successful companies you know and ask if they achieved that success as a result of having a bunch of "yes men and women" around.
If differences of opinion can be healthy in the for-profit corporate environment why are they so shunned in the not-for-profit community association setting? Sometimes boards discount those voices because they don't like the message; other times it is because the messengers are, frankly, not very nice people.  That being said, it remains important that boards try to separate the message from the messengers.  Occasionally, those "dissidents" might be seeing something important that your board is missing.
In the Five Dysfunctions of a Team; A Leadership Fable, author Patrick Lencioni, reveals the five dysfunctions that can derail any team effort as:
  • Absence of trust;
  • Fear of conflict;
  • Lack of commitment;
  • Avoidance of accountability; and
  • Inattention to results.
Isn't a volunteer board of directors really supposed to be a team effort?  If you agree that it is then you must not keep those dissenting voices (whether they are emanating from the owners or from fellow board members) from being heard and you must trust that doing so will not weaken the community or your board in any way.  Your board is required to make tough decisions even in the face of strong opposition.
Far too many community association boards become dysfunctional by not keeping conflict in the proper perspective.  Conflict, if properly managed, can actually make your community stronger and more resilient in the long haul.