(WSVN) - In South Florida, most properties have sprinkler systems — and have you ever noticed some of them have brown spots on the fences or buildings? That’s because of the sprinklers hitting them. But if it’s hitting your condo, can you repair or repaint your property? It’s why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Karen Clarke was looking for a home, one thing at Monterray Village caught her eye.

Karen Clarke, sprinkler hitting condo: “That was the reason why I chose this particular property, because there are a lot of condos, but I noticed they were well maintained.”

A drive around the complex shows it’s still well maintained today, until you walk up to Karen’s condo.

Karen Clarke: “I noticed the wall was changing colors gradually. It’s getting darker and darker.”

The stairs, windows and walls on Karen’s condo, and the one below, have a rusty look because of the sprinklers.

Karen Clarke: “I looked through the window and the water was beating on my window, actually, from the sprinkler system.”

If you look, you can see walls all over South Florida with those stains.

Our water has iron in it, and when sprinklers hit anything, it gives it that rusty look.

Patrick Fraser: “The rust look is not your look?”

Karen Clarke: “No, not at all. It’s bad.”

Sprinklers come in various degrees to avoid this.

For example, a quarter-inch sprays in a quarter of the area.

Karen’s sprinkler was set for 180 degrees to spray just the grass, but it got turned and just sprayed the building.

Karen Clarke: “And, like, when I have visitors, they come [and say], ‘Karen, what’s wrong with your wall?’ I said, ‘It’s the sprinkler.’ [They say], ‘Aren’t you paying a maintenance fee?’ [I say], ‘Yes.'”

Karen complained to the management company. They did disconnect the sprinkler that day, but the rust look remains.

Karen Clarke: “‘Give me a week. I will have the work order drawn up and I will send the guy back.’ Well, that was December 28.”

Karen loved the way her unit looked when she bought it and doesn’t want to be the one that others look at and say, “Oh, look at that neighbor’s place.”

Karen Clarke: “You have a nice house, and then your neighbor doesn’t maintain the property. It makes the whole neighborhood look run-down.”

Well Howard, it’s your condo, but it’s not your sprinkler. Who is responsible for the mess?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, this one is simple. The area that is rusty looking is what the law calls the ‘common area,’ and the association has the sole legal duty to maintain it. In fact, the owner cannot power wash or paint that area. Only the association has the legal right to do that.”

Over the years, we have found many property management companies very difficult to deal with — refusing to talk to us and slow to to do what they are supposed to do for the owners.

But Miami Management was a great exception.

I contacted them. The next day they had a crew out at Karen’s. Not only did they power wash the stains away; they repainted the stairs, walls and window frames.

Karen Clarke: “Very thankful. It was a very pleasant situation when Patrick got involved.”

Miami Management made it look like it did when Karen bought it, leaving behind a happy homeowner.

Karen Clarke: “Very happy. It would not have gotten done had I not contacted you guys.”

Glad we could help. Now, Karen’s complex has a good management company, but many are — how do I put this politely? — less than stellar in responding to residents.

If you have one that you think does a bad job, contact your board, because they hired them. They can fire them and can replace them. There are many good management companies looking for work.

A complex problem sprinkling headaches in your life? Ready to remove the stain? Contact us, and keep us busy working so we don’t get rusty in solving things.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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