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Angry condo owner calls out HOA over 'disturbing' smell emanating from roof: 'That is not normal or OK'

"We can't open the windows."

Mysterious pungent chemical odor in condo

Photo Credit: iStock

A condo resident turned to Reddit for help when they claimed their concerns about possibly toxic fumes were dismissed by their homeowner association's president.

HOAs and condo associations are usually tasked with maintaining the common areas of a community. In a condominium, that should include the roof — the source of this homeowner's complaints.

However, according to the Redditor, their HOA president wasn't willing to admit there was a problem.

"Last summer, I had a mysterious pungent chemical odor in my condo," the Redditor explained. "It disappeared during the winter and is back again with a vengeance this summer."

At first, the Redditor said they weren't able to find the source of the smell. "We called everyone we could think of," they said. "No mold, no rodents, no gas leak, no electrical issue, no plumbing issue, no appliance issue."

The breakthrough came when they contacted a roofer. "He said that the flat PVC roof of the building was outgassing like crazy," the Redditor reported. "He said it's super unusual and disturbing, and he basically got off our roof as quickly as possible."

But despite the testimony of a professional, the user said that their HOA president was not impressed. 

"When I brought it to the attention of the HOA president, she said that the roof always smells like that and it's 'how the building smells,'" they said. "The smell in our apartment she labeled as 'building smell' too. She's been in the building for eight years and there was a new roof put in seven years ago."

According to the Redditor, it's a major issue. "We're the bottom floor of a three story building," they said. "It's in our backyard, and we can't open the windows. We smell it strongest on the roof … There are cypress trees bordering our condo that might trap it in our area."

One helpful commenter explained why this was likely happening. "[PVC roofing] has an underlayer of liquid plasticizers that keep it from getting brittle … The vapors can pass through wood roof decking which is typically what is on residential buildings … PVC roofs are not intended to be blended with residential materials and building methods."

Another commenter added, "I'm in construction. That is not normal or ok." 

As for what to do about it, the commenter recommended going to a lawyer. Another option would be to approach the HOA to try to work within the existing bylaws using the tips in this guide.

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