Condo repair laws tend to define a line between resident and building maintenance. Everything inside one owner's unit, from the walls out, is resident territory. Every home asset outside the unit walls is the HOA's responsibility. But water damage blurs that line in an unpleasant and sometimes multiple unit-spanning way.
The Many Layers of Condo Responsibility
Who is responsible for the full extent of water damage when it occurs in a condo building? The answer to this question is not simple. There are many layers of responsibility. In the spirit of duty, responsibility lies where the water originated. If it came from the roof, then the association should pay for the full extend of the damage caused by this maintenance failure. If it came from resident error, that resident may be responsible.
But there is also the legal element. Your CC&Rs and bylaws may more precisely define where responsibility lies. Your local laws may already dictate how some condo maintenance issues must be settled. All involved insurance companies will want a say in proving coverage and cuplability. At the end of this process, you will know who is considered responsible for each section of water damage caused by a single condo leak.
Consult State Laws and Insurance Policies
First, check the law. Some states have laws regarding condo management and your entire community must conform to these strictures. From there, your city or county may have HOA or condo laws that have some sway in your water damage issue. Consult on repair, water damage, and multi-unit maintenance laws to get the full picture.
Define Your Repair-Related CC&Rs and By-Laws
Next, check your HOA's governing documents for how repairs, maintenance, and water damage should be handled. Look for anything that defines the lines of responsibility and repair policies. Mold remediation, roof maintenance, and any rules regarding multi-unit issues may be referenced in addition to general repair guidelines.
The sooner you know the written policies for damage responsibility, the easier it will be to help untangle the web of ownership between condos, condo buildings, and shared maintenance concerns.
Condo Responsibility for Common Area Leaks & Damage
Residents and condo owners are rarely held responsible for damage done by or to public areas. A public area leak that then damages the public space is primarily the HOA's responsibility. Depending on your association policies, it is likely that the HOA's responsibility to cover condo damage caused by a public area leak.
When unit-originated leaks damage public areas, you'll need to check the policies. However, public area water damage repairs usually default to the HOA.
Insurance Coverage with Condo-Origin Leaks and Leaks Between Units
Leaks that start in a homeowner's condo also start as territory of the insurance companies. Whether their water damage is covered, and whether their insurance might cover another homeowner's condo damage, is a matter of policy. The damage done to the walls and fixtures between the condos may be the concern of your association, or may be included in homeowner's insurance-covered repairs.
Resolving Leak and Water Damage Disputes Between Neighbors
The condo association may be called on to resolve a dispute between neighbors if the leak affects none of the public areas, but crossed unit boundaries. The association may be the ideal neutral party to mediate inter-resident repair issues. Professionals on your contact list may be able to help sort out insurance issues, resolve any disputes on HOA policy, and define who is responsible for each unique leak and water damage scenario.
Contact us for more condo association management strategies or insight on your community circumstances. We look forward to consulting on your community and the best tactics for your building and neighbors.