Monday, November 2, 2009
Cutting services to delinquent owners
In this economic climate clients are frequently asking if certain services can be shut off. Most frequently, we are asked if the cable television paid for on a bulk basis can be shut off in a condo community. The answer is "no" because that is not a remedy granted by law. Condominiums only exist because there is a law that provides for their existence and the rights and remedies of owners and associations are set forth therein. The law simply does not allow it. Recently an HOA amended its documents to provide for authority to install individual water meters and cut off water to those people who did not pay. A trial judge refused to allow the association to do so, apparently for equitable reasons. Perhaps the judge's thoughts were the same as the Supreme Court of New Hampshire which recently ruled that an owner cannot shut off the cable of a non-paying tenent as it amounted to what is known as "constructive eviction."
CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that cable television is a protected utility service under state law that can't be shut off during landlord-tenant disputes.The court on Friday reversed a trial court judge's decision to dismiss a claim by Christopher Lally, who was being evicted by his landlord last year and lost the cable connection. The landlord, Lauren Flieder, argued that the cable provider told her Lally's apartment was receiving the service through an illegal connection, so she disconnected the wire.The state Supreme Court found the law regards cable TV as a protected service and that Flieder's action basically amounted to a self-help eviction, which is illegal in most states, including New Hampshire. It sent the case back to the trial court for further review.