Management of downtown Baltimore condominium complex sued over leaks

Management of downtown Baltimore condominium complex sued over leaks

Daniel Ostrovsky

A downtown Baltimore condominium complex that allegedly advertised itself as a masterpiece of luxurious living continues to suffer from major water penetration and mold problems, according to a complaint filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

According to the $500,000 lawsuit, the management of Scarlett Place Residential Condominium Inc., located on South President Street, did not follow through on a promise to make necessary repairs after entering into a multimillion-dollar settlement with the building’s architects and developer.

Plaintiffs Budreaux & Sammy LLC, Scarlet Place LLC and Columbus Piazza LLC claim they cannot move ahead with the renovations of three sixth-floor apartments, which were slated to be merged and occupied by the firms’ managing member, Peter N. Yaffe, due to the continued danger of water penetration.

Management has failed to make adequate and permanent repairs to eliminate the Water Infiltration Problems, such that water and moisture continue to leak into the Plaintiffs’ condominium units damaging and staining walls, ceilings and floors and creating toxic mold, the complaint alleges. [T]he future installation of replacement walls, ceilings, flooring and carpeting would serve only to expose the Plaintiffs to an increase of their economic losses and other damages and create a potential serious health risk to unit occupants.

Scarlett Place Residential’s management has been aware of problems relating to water damage since at least 1993, the plaintiffs claim, citing a $5 million lawsuit filed by management against those involved in designing and constructing the building.

The 1993 complaint was amended in 1997 after a remand by the Court of Special Appeals. It alleged that walls, windows and doors were not properly sealed and adequate water drainage systems were lacking.

That suit ultimately settled for millions of dollars, according to the current plaintiffs. Despite the settlement, however, they allege the leaks haven’t been eliminated.

For instance, the complaint quotes from a 2003 memorandum that stated that a consulting engineer had been hired to investigate balcony and terrace leaks.

From August until December 2003, contractors hired by the building worked on one of the plaintiffs’ sixth-floor units as well as another they owned on the eighth floor, aiming to secure walls, windows and the balcony from water, the complaint alleges.

However, bricks removed for the installation of a new rain drainage system were not properly replaced causing water penetration into the interior wall areas of the sixth-floor unit, the complaint states, and caulking around the exterior dining area window failed and resulted in water damage to the interior dining room sill of the eighth-floor apartment.

Water has continued to penetrate the apartments in the building, the complaint alleges. The pleadings make reference to at least five letters written to property management by an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Cracks continue to appear in the balconies and, the complaint alleges, water still flows in from the outside.

Even though the plaintiffs claim they received a letter this March, which noted that another consultant was hired to take care of the problems, they allege management has yet to undertake additional repairs.

Building management failed to immediately engage certified industrial hygiene and/or environmental health expert to remediate the presence of toxic mold which it knew would damage and contaminate the interior improvements of [the apartments] as the result of the unabated water and moisture penetration, the complaint alleges.

Furthermore, the complaint states construction materials used by the plaintiffs for the renovation of their apartments have been damaged by the water and they will be forced to buy new building supplies, which are now going for higher prices.

A lack of action on the part of the management has forced the companies to incur costly and unnecessary rental charges and condominium fees in order to provide Plaintiffs’ managing member with alternate rental accommodations elsewhere in the building, the complaint alleges.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Stephen J. Nolan, who could not be reached for comment.

Susan R. Rapaport, resident agent for Scarlett Place Residential, declined to comment yesterday, saying she has not been served with the pleadings.

Copyright 2005 Dolan Media Newswires

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