Q&A: Ant Infestation Spreading?

Q We have had an ant problem since the spring. A problem that began in the unit upstairs has now spread to several units including ours. Who is responsible for the removal and extermination? Is it the original unit or the association?

—Pesky Problem

A “I almost always advise condominium associations that the association should immediately address any complaint regarding pests regardless of whether or not it is an association responsibility or a unit owner responsibility,” says attorney Charles A. Ryan of the law firm of Franklin G. Pilicy P.C. in Watertown, Connecticut. “Pests have the potential to cause a lot of damage in a short period of time including health issues. Furthermore, it is unlikely that an association will be able to prove the origin of the pests and thus recovery from a unit owner or owners will be difficult if not impossible. Most association documents provide for recovery from unit owners for damages to common areas under certain circumstances. For example, in Connecticut a unit owner may be liable to the association if the damage to the common areas is caused by the unit owner’s gross negligence or willful misconduct. With regard to damages from pests it may be very difficult to prove that a unit owner was grossly negligent or willfully caused the pests which damaged common areas and units. The association should immediately take whatever steps necessary to remove the pests. If the association fails to do so the problem will spread and will become every unit owner’s problem within a short time. If the association is not addressing the issue at all or in a timely manner you may want to seek legal counsel. The Board of Directors may not have engaged the association’s attorney for legal advice as to who is responsible for the infestation. A well-written letter from an attorney experienced in condominium law may help.”