When the flying-squirrel guy told Tina Nelson that it was snowing in her attic, she knew things were getting out of hand at her Edina condo.
That was almost two years ago. Since then, the squirrels infesting her attic have been removed and the openings that let them in, along with the snow, have been closed. But Nelson continues to complain of problems with her unit at the Village Homes of Edinborough complex.
More than 30 inspectors have come to check on issues that Nelson says include persistent mold, water leaks and mouse infestations. Engineers have looked at her place. Pest specialists. Roofers. Health officials. Fire inspectors.
Yet none of them has been able to solve Nelson’s problems. They’re wondering if it’s even possible.
“Everybody’s trying to help her, and it’s never enough,” said Mike Kojetin, who has managed the complex since the day it opened 29 years ago.
“All I can say is, I think we’ve done everything we can to try and satisfy her. And I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to satisfy her,” said David Fisher, Edina’s chief building official.
Nelson, a 39-year-old project manager, knows she’s become a very squeaky wheel. But she said she has no choice.
“It’s maddening that I’m perceived to be a person who’s seeing things,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing the right thing, but it doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere.”
Other residents, however, say that what she’s doing may make it harder for them to sell their units.
Unusual legal tactic
In 2014, Nelson sued a roofing company that had worked on her condo and others in the 380-unit complex before her problems began. In an unusual legal twist, she used a tactic called a “derivative action” to force the condo association to join the lawsuit against its will. The suit is scheduled for trial in June.
The condo association’s involvement in the suit could affect the willingness of mortgage lenders to finance sales of units in the complex, Kojetin said. In a posting on the community website Nextdoor Edinborough, one resident said owners are having a hard time selling their units because of Nelson’s lawsuit.
“People are starting to get [ticked] off,” the resident wrote.
Nelson, who’s owned her two-bedroom unit for 11 years, said water continues to leak into her living space. In her suit, she wants her roof and siding replaced. Her attorney and the attorney for the roofing company declined to comment.
“She has made many accusations, and we have had all kinds of inspections. And all of those have gone well, and they have not found what she is claiming,” said Barbara La Valleur, a condo board member.
“All we can do as a board is to make sure we have professional people who can go in and look at her issues. And I’m telling you, they’ve all said that there’s nothing wrong.”
Nobody else has issues
Kojetin said Nelson’s issues have been frustrating, because no one else in the complex is having similar problems. But he said the condo board has been cooperative, working with Nelson’s attorney and assisting with the various inspections.
Fisher, the city building official, inspected Nelson’s unit earlier this year with the fire marshal and a health inspector. They issued a joint report saying they found no building code violations.
Nelson has written to just about every public official and agency she can think of: the mayor, the City Council, Hennepin County, the state Department of Health and the state attorney general.
About the only person she hasn’t contacted is Gov. Mark Dayton, and she’s considering it. “I’m kind of sick of writing letters,” she said, displaying her neatly clipped and cataloged correspondence.
Nelson said she never expected to find herself in this situation, but she can’t think of any other way she could have handled it.
“The condo board has implied that I’m crazy,” she said. “I’ve gotten nasty e-mails from other homeowners. I can’t invite people over to my house — I’m tripping over tarps and plastic and buckets.
“I’m not high maintenance. I’m someone who wants to do things the right way.”