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Can you sue your homeowner's association?

New York City residents often belong to homeowners' associations (HOA) or co-op boards in their communities. These organizations wield a great deal of power and control over the common areas of an apartment building or condominium. They can be responsible for enforcing the maintenance of certain areas within the shared grounds.

In exchange for this oversight, homeowners typically pay annual fees to the HOA that provide for the property's upkeep. But what happens if the HOA collects fees but fails to keep the property well-maintained?

For instance, if your building has an exercise room that includes a lap pool for resident members to use, you have the expectation that the pool will be properly chlorinated, regularly cleaned and the pH of the water monitored daily. When you go for daily swim, the condition of the water was greenish and the odor foul. After only a short swim, you left the pool area.

But you still may have stayed too long, because now you are experiencing the respiratory effects of swimming in a pool that was contaminated by others' wastes and never properly shocked back to clarity. Do you have any recourse in the matter?

In some situations, if you had to visit your doctor for breathing treatments or medicine, you might be able to file a claim against the HOA or the building ownership and recover the costs you spent on medical treatment. You will have to be able to tie your illness into the failure of the entity in charge of maintaining the pool's pristine condition, which may or may not be the HOA.

If you could show that the fees the HOA collected for pool maintenance were otherwise used or diverted, that could be another avenue to pursue. But in many cases, there will be no criminal component. A New York City premises liability lawyer can review your case and offer guidance and advice.

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