May Your HOA Demand a Key to Your Condo?

Here is a simple question  a reader asked. It is not a yes or no question although it might seem so.

“Question is! Does the association have the right to have a key to our homes without being help responsible for theft our damage to the inside of my condo.”

The condo association can ask for keys – there is nothing preventing that. If my association asked, I would  ask “why?” I, like many others, do not want to give the association keys unless there is a good reason. There are quite a few risks. I would  want to know who was going to take responsibility for the keys and for access. Who might get access? Whether anyone getting access was bonded and insured.

If the Board was trying to arrange some work project, I would let the board know that I want to try and arrange an alternative to giving my keys, like having someone present the day of the work, like giving a trusted neighbor a key so they  at least would know what time the contractor came, went, and who they were.

If advising a Board, I would not recommend keeping keys except maybe if the building is a highrise and there is a risk that if something happens in your unit it could seriously adversely affect neighboring units. A water incident such as knocking off a sprinkler head or something that allows a serious release of water into units might just present such an emergency situation.

The Board that collects keys has liability, whether they deny it or not. That is why I would not recommend the board collect keys. Say a project wide contract is being executed. The steps I would recommend are exactly what is occurring in the condo association where I live. The Board has given everyone notice that sprinkler heads need to be replaced they are under recall. They have let everyone know that if they cannot arrange to allow access on the date for their building, they may have to pay extra contract costs to have the contractor come out on a different day.

This is all reasonable.  However, my condo is a two story and although the units are attached, there is not a lot  of risk to others if something happens in my unit, short of a fire in which case the fire dept would be called anyway.

They do not really want to send contractors in without each of us arranging to have someone to be in our unit. I recently had foot surgery and was going to be staying elsewhere for a month. I could not arrange for someone to be here. I communicated with the  manager telling them this, and was ready to  give my garage code (which could be changed after the service) to allow a contractor to come in if it became necessary. The work did not happen in the timeframe when I would be gone.

My other option would be to pay the extra money for the contractor to come out on a different day. I would see that as my responsibility, but would hope it would not come to that.

Demanding keys puts the association at risk if the wrong people get ahold of them, or damage occurs. And, any owner could say that it did even if it did not. An owner could accuse the association contractor of a theft, claiming loss of jewelry or computers or whatever, and then there would be a problem.

I would assume Condo associations would not want that kind of liability. I understand why owners do not want to give up keys if there is any other option. So both parties should explore  all options. But not everyone ends up happy. Boards have a job to do and that includes protecting the assets of the condo association. Sprinkler heads are a pretty important thing to get right.



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