Just last month we reported on a lawsuit involving Preston Tower and now it’s been uncovered that another Pink Wall condominium is reeling from at least three lawsuits filed by recent buyers against their HOA, the prior owners, and managing agent Intercity Investments (also named in the Preston Tower suit and a third that was settled out of court also in Pink Wall turf). Edgemere on the Parkway is located at the corner of Northwest Highway and Edgemere Road. It comprises two 10-unit buildings at 8505 and 8511 Edgemere that were built in 2004, making it 13 years old.
All three plaintiffs (Bartlett Family Trust, Lawrence and Brenda Weprin, and Syann Singleton) make essentially the same claims. Each purchased their units in 2014-2015 and almost immediately began experiencing frequent ceiling and window leaks that stained walls and ceilings. In addition, raw sewage was backing up into at least one of the second flood units.
Each buyer claims they were unaware of the ongoing problems prior to purchasing their units because each seller’s disclosure omitted these problems as had the resale certificate. One disclosure, provided in court documents, did list a single prior plumbing problem that was claimed to have been fixed.
Each suit argues that had the buyer been aware of the extent of the problems, they’d never have bought.
What is the extent of the problem? Turns out after paying $600,000-plus for each unit, they were quickly hit with the specter of a $150,000 special assessment … per unit. In a 20-unit complex, that’s a $3 million “fix” in a 13-year-old building. Not the stuff of dreams, right?
In fact it’s every homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Movies like The Money Pit are amusing on the big screen, but not when you’re the star. Buyers try to do the best they can by hiring a home inspector, but they’re not perfect and don’t have X-Ray vision. Condo buyers rely on the honesty of the HOA and sellers to alert them to any big problems. Of course, it’s not in the seller’s best interest to be too honest, is it? (Not judging the merit of these cases, just of human nature.)
To me it seems fishy that a relatively small 13-year-old condo building would require such a large assessment. I can’t imagine something breaking that would cost that much to fix. Court documents say that much of the special assessment cash will go towards re-skinning the exterior of the property. That seems pretty telling that the problem of multiple failures (leaks) in the exterior skin of the building is not the result of “breakage” or “end of usable life” but rather a systemic failure of either the builder or the product used. If that kind of damage was caused by a weather event (the large storm in October 2015), the complex’s insurance would be called upon. That this all seems to have begun just after the property’s 10th anniversary lets the builder off the 10-year hook.
In my opinion, plaintiff Singleton holds a possible smoking gun (if you will). According to court documents, she purchased her property from the man who’d been the HOA president for a decade. If anyone knew what was up at the complex in general and in this unit specifically, he did. The suit claims that two weeks after occupying the unit she had her first sewage backup into her bathtub and further claims that “Upon arrival at Plaintiff’s Property, the ICI [Intercity Investments] plumbers stated they were well acquainted with previous sewage and plumbing issues associated with the Property”.
The sewage problem continued over the ensuing months including a March 2015 sewage leak from the Plaintiff’s unit into the property’s lobby. After investigating the problem, a repair was made in May 2015 to many parts of the Edgemere property. Since June 2015, the Singleton has not had a sewage problem.
However in October 2015, after a torrential rain, window leaks were discovered in the kitchen, guest bedroom, and living rooms. That storm caused leaks in 18 of 20 units in the complex that had apparently occurred in the past … the first time Singleton had heard of past water leaks and that, according to court documents, “Edgemere HOA and ICI have continuously made repairs to the Property and Edgemere since at least 2007” (when the builder would’ve still been on the hook for a construction failure).
The other two plaintiff’s claims mirror Singleton’s with slightly different timelines depending on unit purchase date.
Throughout this process … yes it still continues … all defendants (naturally) deny any wrongdoing. The Plaintiffs sought to join their cases (ultimately denied). At least one of the seller/defendant’s lawyers quit because their clients could no longer afford their services.
The Bartlett Family Trust received a blow as the claims against the prior owner were quashed as the Trust clearly bought the property “as-is.” A quick look at DCAD shows that the prior two owners of the unit prior to the Bartlett Trust spent just 14 and 29 months there. It makes me wonder what the 14-month owner knew when it was sold to the 29-month owners? The HOA and ICI are still being sued.
No matter the outcome, it’s all very drama-filled.
The Singleton and Weprin cases are scheduled to go to trial in November 2017. The Bartlett Family Trust case is still collecting subpoenas.
For those wishing to follow the drama:
Cases: Singleton (DC-16-08142), Weprin (DC-16-08142), Bartlett Family Trust (CC-16-03369E).
You might be thinking this is a case of buyer’s remorse, and it totally is. However if it’s proven that material information was withheld from the buyers, then they couldn’t have made an informed decision on the purchase. It’s one thing to buy milk after the “sell-by” date and get sick. It’s quite another to buy expired milk when the seller changed or removed the “sell-by” date … and then get sick.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email email@example.com.