Co-op board refuses to tent building for termites

(WSVN) - Termites are chewing up South Florida, and some people are fuming because they have the pests and their co-op board won’t tent the properties. But do these boards have to tent the building? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

After moving from Canada to South Florida, Pat has noticed a lot of differences and has now been introduced to one more.

Patrick Fraser: “They don’t have termites in Canada, do they?”

Pat Gauthier, wants apartment tented: “No, they have carpenter ants.”

Pat is talking about termites because she is battling them and losing.

Pat Gauthier: “They are all here on the floor. They’re all over the cabinets.”

Pat is very clean, which makes it even more irritating when she walks into her kitchen each morning.

Pat Gauthier: “This is like coffee grinds. The feces, I guess, from the termites. Then you look at your counter, you say, ‘Oh, this is disgusting.”

Pat says she has had termites for a few months.

Pat Gauthier: “That’s termites that I accumulated in a roach container.”

Some neighbors have had them a lot longer.

Pat Gauthier: “I am thinking they are going to start eating the furniture because they are eating other people’s furniture.”

Patrick Fraser: “Get out of here.”

And so Pat took us out of her place to a neighbor’s place. Along the way, we stopped at the laundry room.

Pat Gauthier: “On the floor. All over.”

Then we got to Dave’s apartment. If you had a nickel for every dead termite here, you could buy the entire building.

Dave Lynch, termites are swarming: “You can vacuum this place today. Tomorrow, it will look the same.”

Look at the baseboards. The termites have eaten through them.

This is an antique desk Dave says was owned by his late mother. The termites have destroyed it.

Pat Gauthier: “And some people have said to the president, ‘Look, the furniture is getting eaten,’ and he said, ‘Well, just throw your furniture out — that’s all — and get new ones.'”

Dave has complained to the association. They send guys in to spot treat.

Dave Lynch: “And they will drill a hole, and they will show me they will kill one termite, and I go, ‘Oh, yeah. What about the other 50,000?'”

Pat asked a termite company to inspect her place. They wrote, “In order to completely eliminate the infestation, a structural fumigation is recommended.” The board’s response? “No.”

Pat Gauthier: “Because they say termites come back within six months, maybe sooner, and it’s not worth the effort.”

Instead they live with this day after day, month after month.

Pat Gauthier: “Well, eventually I guess that the place might be condemned, and then we’ll just lose our money.”

Pat wants to tent. Dave wants to tent. The board says, “No tenting.” Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News Legal Expert: “The board needs to be careful because they have to maintain the common elements, and termites inside the walls are part of the common element. The board has been put on notice that they need to tent the building, and any further damage that occurs to the individual units –and that includes furniture — could be the responsibility of the co-op to repair or replace if they do not take action.”

We spoke to the Venetian Park co-op president.

Gary Moll was very nice and said a lot of people don’t believe in tenting, and he does not believe in tenting.

He says the co-op documents say it’s up to the individual owners to get rid of their termites.

When I mentioned some residents say spot treating is not working and they need to tent, he said, “The board made a decision, and we will not tent the property.”

Pat Gauthier: “This is crazy. It’s not a way to live.”

Howard Finkelstein: “An owner or owners needs to hire an attorney. A judge can then order the board to tent the building, and in most cases, the co-op will have to pay the attorney for the owner if and when they win.”

Pat and other owners don’t want to sue their own co-op but…

Pat Gauthier: “It looks like that’s the only alternative because what else can we do? Just live with termites and throw our furniture out? It’s ridiculous.”

And now Pat and other Lighthouse Point neighbors are looking for an attorney to sue to force the board to tent the building and end their termite torture.

Infested with problems bugging you? Swarming with options but can’t land a solution? Come under our tent and let us wing it because we “wood” love to chew ’em up.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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