Condominium repairs are an inevitable part of condo ownership. But, not all elements of a condo unit fall under the responsibility of the owner. Sometimes, the condo association is on the hook for maintenance and repairs.
Who Is Responsible for Condominium Repairs?
Purchasing a condo usually comes with automatic membership into a condo association. Condo owners will then need to follow the association’s rules, including the owner’s obligation to carry out condo maintenance. Some maintenance and repair work, though, don’t fall under the responsibility of the owner and, instead, fall under the responsibility of the association.
This is where most condo owners become confused. What types of repairs are the condo association responsible for? And what repairs are the owners responsible for?
It goes without saying that an owner is responsible for their own personal items and belongings. For instance, if the refrigerator malfunctions, the owner has to pay for the repairs or replacements themselves. Most of the confusion lies with the structure of the condo itself. For things like walls, flooring, and balconies, will the owner be on the hook for maintenance or will it fall to the condo association?
The first place owners should check is state and local laws. There may be existing laws that govern condo associations and the condominium repairs they are responsible for.
For example, according to the Washington Condominium Act, the association is in charge of maintaining and repairing the common elements (including limited common elements), while owners are in charge of their individual units.
The problem with laws like this, though, is that they are often very general. For more specific guidelines, owners should look to their condo association’s governing documents. The bylaws and CC&Rs, in particular, will usually contain language describing the maintenance responsibilities of the association and the owners. Because these provisions can differ from one condo to another, there is no universal rule that applies to all condos equally.
That being said, the burden of responsibility usually depends on where the element is located. The association typically bears responsibility for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of exterior structures and elements. Conversely, owners typically bear responsibility for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of interior structures and elements.
Condominium Repairs Under the COA’s Responsibility
Living in a community managed by a condo association comes with many perks. In addition to gaining access to exclusive amenities, owners also benefit from maintenance and repairs. Of course, these amenities and services do come with condo fees.
Generally speaking, the elements that fall under the association’s scope of responsibility include:
- The structure of the condo
- Exterior lighting such as parking lot lighting, floodlighting, etc.
- The roof of the condo, including the gutters and shingles
- Exterior sidings and features of the condo
- All shared amenities such as clubhouses, pools, and office buildings
- Walkways, trails, and sidewalks
As for balconies and terraces, it really depends on the association’s governing documents. If all of the units have balconies and terraces, then the responsibility will likely fall on the association.
What Repairs Are Condo Owners Responsible For?
More often than not, maintenance and repairs for the interior of the condo units fall on the shoulders of individual owners. This is favorable to condo owners because it means the association does not have a say in how owners layout or decorate the inside of their units.
Generally speaking, the elements that fall under the owner’s scope of responsibility include:
- All interior fixtures such as interior walls, flooring, and lighting
- Electrical systems
Sometimes, a component may not be specified in the governing documents. In this case, it may be worth referring to the community plat. The plat will usually reflect whether a particular component, like an attic or basement, is a common element or otherwise.
Exterior Issues That Cause Internal Damages
Sometimes, problems with the exterior of the condominium will seep into the interiors of condo units. For example, a leak in the roof might cause water damage inside an owner’s unit. In that case, who is responsible — the owner or the condo association?
While this can vary from one condo to another, the association is generally responsible for fixing the leaky roof, while the owner is responsible for repairing any damages to the inside of their condo. This is why condo insurance is such an integral part of condo ownership, as it can reduce the financial burden on owners in these cases.
If the above condo unit is the source of the water damage, the condo association bears no responsibility. In this case, the two condo owners (the one who owns the above unit and the one who owns the below unit) have to settle the damages between themselves. Typically, it means one of the owners’ insurance providers will cover the cost of the repairs.
The Importance of Condo Insurance
It is imperative that all condo owners purchase and maintain their own condo insurance policy. This is similar to homeowners insurance in that condo insurance protects the owner’s personal belongings and covers damages to the interior of the unit.
The exact coverage and deductibles of condo insurance will depend on the type of policy the owner gets. It is wise, though, to purchase a policy that covers perils such as natural disasters, internal issues, and theft.
Condo associations usually have a master policy for the association itself, but this policy doesn’t extend to individual owners. As such, many condo associations require owners to maintain a policy of their own.
Owners should remember that condo insurance is not the solution to all their problems. If damage happens because of a covered risk, then the insurance provider will cover the cost of the loss. However, it’s not uncommon for insurance providers to investigate claims. And, if the provider determines that the owner caused the damage, then the provider can deny the claim. This will leave the owner to pay for the damages out of pocket.
The Bottom Line
It is easier to discern maintenance responsibilities in a planned community consisting of detached homes. But, for condominiums with many shared elements, it can get quite complex. Thankfully, associations normally have detailed provisions for condominium repairs outlined in their governing documents. Owners and board members can then refer to these documents for guidance.
Tracking maintenance and violations can be a source of pain for many condo communities. Condo Manager simplifies the job with sophisticated software. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo.
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