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Little Italy residents file lawsuit against condo developer

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WATCH: Residents of a condo building in Montreal’s Little Italy neighbourhood are taking the project’s developer to court over alleged water infiltration. Global's Phil Carpenter reports – Nov 30, 2017

Damian Garone looked forward to moving into his new condo in Little Italy five years ago.

“It was great,” he said. “It’s an area that we wanted to live in, my girlfriend and I.”

The building was an old commercial complex on St-Laurent Boulevard at Jean Talon that was converted into a four-storey condo called Le Spazio.

There were small issues at first, but Garone says it wasn’t until a year later that he began to worry.

“We started noticing some water infiltration coming in,” he explained.

But after the unusually wet 2017 winter, Garone says it got much worse.

“That’s when the majority of the water started coming in… In the bedroom, along the walls, by the windows.”

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It wasn’t just his unit.  Sandy Cavallo, his next-door neighbour, says that her problem was even worse.

“One day water just came gushing out, like everywhere.”

Garone says that in all, eight of the 30 units have serious water infiltration problems.

Cavallo says that in her unit, “there’s water everywhere, under the floors.”

This summer, the condo board had a detailed inspection done. The results shocked everybody.

“There was two to three inches of water through the whole roof,” Garone said. “Just staying there, like a pool!”

He said water was seeping down through the walls into some of the units and that there was more water coming in through the exterior walls and some windows. All that water and humidity  turned to mould, Garone said.

The condo board decided to sue the developers, alleging they were negligent. Lawyers for the developer refused to comment to Global News for this story because the matter is before the courts.

Pierre Champagne is a lawyer at de Grandpré Joli-Coeur law firm, which specializes in real estate and co-ownership law. He’s seen this kind of water infiltration issue before.

“Very often… Water infiltration is a major problem in buildings in Montreal and all around the province.”

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He advises clients to act quickly if they decide to go to court, because a developer might run out of money. He remembers one such experience.

“Both companies we sued were empty,” he said. “At the end of the exercise, it took four or five years and and unfortunately we didn’t get anything.”

That’s what the affected co-owners at Le Spazio are afraid of. The condo board estimates repairs could cost anywhere between $3 million and $5 millions. Board members have no idea how they’ll pay for all the repairs, and owners fear what could happen next.

“Bankruptcy,” Cavallo said, fighting back tears.

She, her husband and kids, as well as Garone and his girlfriend have moved out because of the mould. At this point, all they can do is wait to see what comes of the lawsuit.

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