Who Fixes What In A Condo? An HOA?

I received this question today:

“My ceiling fell in this morning. Apparently the neighbor’s refrigerator water tubing broke and water ran all night. Now its everywhere including in my condo.

I called the association manager, and they sent someone out. They had to get the police to help them get in. The water turned off in the unit above, and said they would send someone out to dry the floors and stuff, and fixed the lock. They said the owner was out of the state but would return soon and I could deal with them, that the repairs were not the association’s responsibility. Who is going to fix my place, that is what I want to know. Can you help?”

This  kind of situation is not uncommon, unfortunately. In this case the condo association manager probably did the right thing, which was to investigate, get into the condo, stop the flow of water and have the place dried out. The Board probably has the right to seek reimbursement from the owner of the faulty tubing for the money it spent stopping the problem; the question of how to try and collect would lie in the regulatory documents (CC&Rs in California).

The question of who is responsible to fix what in a Condo or HOA is not always a simple one. In fact, there are many misconceptions about responsibility in a Condo or HOA. But you are in luck. There are some resources. 

I just made available on my website, among all off the other Primers, books, Guides and forms publications, a Maintenance Primer. I recently finished an article for THE ECHO JOURNAL (www.echo-ca.org) which will be published in two parts, and, I also just finished the January E-News on the topic and it goes out Wednesday the 20th. It will be parked on the website thereafter at the E-Newsletter Archives. The article is extensive and will be posted to the website after it runs in full (its broken into 2 parts); however, the Primer is a comprehensive guide on how to determine who fixes what in a condo or HOA, and also discusses the importance and value of policy setting. Later intermediate maintenance primers will be developed that will deal with more specific situations like the above.

The easiest way to prevent arguments that cost either side legal fees to resolve is to encourage good policy setting in an HOA or condo association, and that urging can come from the board or from owners.

Don’t be left in the dark, wondering who is responsible for the lights!

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2 Responses to Who Fixes What In A Condo? An HOA?
  1. sharon
    January 21, 2010 | 9:54 pm

    If a homeowner has fines levied against them but their assessments are current are they eligible to run for a Board position at the Annual meeting?

    • Beth Grimm
      February 6, 2010 | 6:15 am

      It depends on what the governing documents for the association say (these would include the bylaws and CC&Rs in California).