Their townhouses are linked and share something no one wants: They all have termites. But they can’t tent because one neighbor told them no. It’s why they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

If you grew up in Cuba in the mid-’60s, you might have seen Norma’s face.

Patrick Fraser: “You did commercials in Cuba as a child?”

Norma Sosa: “Yes. Chocolate Quik, cream cheese Nella. It’s like the cream cheese here, but it’s called Nella over there.”

Norma’s family fled Cuba, and she wound up in Pembroke Pines, where a pest has her on TV again.

Norma Sosa: “The termites are coming into my bedroom, my son’s bedroom.”

Norma lives in Cedar Wood Townhouses where, of course, the ceilings are beautiful cedar timbers.

Norma Sosa: “Oh, thank you very much. We put a little bit of varnish on top, only one coat, so it would look shiny.

But when you mix wood and termites, it’s a problem. Take a look at this: Wings and droppings everywhere, every day.

Norma Sosa: “We have them all over. They are attacking the house.”

Six of the townhouses are connected to each other, and Norma says they are all infested with termites. Five owners agreed to pay $450 each to tent. And then there is that neighbor every neighborhood seems to have.

Norma Sosa: “I asked the lady very nicely, the owner, ‘We are having this issue. We beg you to please, if you could get along with us. Everybody wants to tent. We only need your approval.”

The reply?

Norma Sosa: “And she just, you know, said, ‘No, I’m not going to have it done.'”

That leaves Norma and her neighbors spraying outside to try to kill the pests. Inside, anything to try to stop the termites.

Norma Sosa: “I spray on the top and the bottom.”

Patrick Fraser: “Spraying doesn’t work?”

Norma Sosa: “No. It works for the day or two days, but that’s it.”

Some people believe termites won’t eat cedar. They will, meaning the picturesque ceilings could one day be destroyed.

Norma Sosa: “This has been going on for a few years already, but now it got even worse, so I’m afraid that the house is going to collapse.

When the houses are linked together like this, can one neighbor block the others from tenting? Howard?

Howard Finkelstein: “Temporarily, yes. But permanently, no. If the homeowners association cannot force an owner to co-operate, you have two options: notify their bank that holds the mortgage and they can force them to allow the tenting to protect the bank’s collateral, or secondly, you can sue the holdout and a judge will order them to allow the tenting and force them to pay your legal fees for having to sue them.”

We talked to the property manager who said she wants the building to get tented to protect them, but our association documents require all owners to agree on tenting, and if one holds out, we are out of luck.

I spoke to the owner who was holding out, twice.

The second time she said the neighbors were wrong, that she had termites like they did but was not ready to tent when they first approached her.

Now she is ready to talk, that if all six owners will meet, listen to her concerns, then she is willing to move forward and tent the building.

Norma Sosa: “Good news. That’s a big step.”

Meaning the next step: the six owners get together to get rid of these pests.

Norma Sosa: “Extremely happy. I feel like I can breathe again. Thank you so much, Patrick. I appreciate so much what you have done for us.”

Well, don’t thank us yet till the tenting is done. And while some owners might be reluctant to tent, remember your home is an investment. Termites are eating your building. If you try to sell it with termites or termite damage, it might kill the deal, so get rid of the pests when you can.

A problem bugging you? You are not a pest if you contact us. Let us wing it and swarm in to help you.

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

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