Condominium and townhome living offers a range of benefits, one of the key advantages being increased affordability over stand-alone single-family homes. The shared costs make amenities such as pools, parks, and clubhouses available to everyone. This form of housing makes homeownership more accessible to a broader spectrum of individuals who might otherwise find it challenging to achieve the dream of home ownership. It can also be a fantastic way to create a sense of community while ensuring that the dream of owning a home is attainable for more people.
However, it’s common for residents to find themselves in a labyrinth of uncertainty regarding condo repairs – wondering who is responsible for fixing what.
In this guide, we will dive into the world of condo associations and explore the roles and responsibilities of condo owners and associations when it comes to repairs, demystifying the age-old question: Who Fixes Which Condo Repairs?
Understanding the roles and responsibilities for condo repairs
When you become a condo owner, you gain ownership of your unit and share common areas such as hallways, elevators, and recreational facilities. As a responsible condo owner, you must ensure the maintenance and repair of everything within your unit, including household appliances, plumbing fixtures, and all other components exclusive to your living space. However, this responsibility is handed over to the condominium association regarding the upkeep of common areas.
Being a condo owner entails a certain level of responsibility. In addition to taking care of your unit, you also hold collective responsibility for the shared spaces within your condominium community. This means that while you have control over your personal living space, you must rely on the condo association to handle the maintenance and repairs of common areas.
Condo owners are typically required to pay monthly maintenance fees to the condo association. These fees cover the cost of maintaining and repairing the common areas. Condo owners must understand their rights and responsibilities outlined in the condo association’s bylaws and governing documents. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding condo repairs.
The role of the condo association in condo repairs
The condo association is responsible for maintaining and repairing the common areas and managing the overall property. This includes landscaping, snow removal, and exterior maintenance. The condo association may have a dedicated maintenance team or outsource the condo repairs to pre-approved vendors or a management company.
In addition to handling condo repairs, the association is responsible for setting the rules and regulations regarding repairs. This includes establishing guidelines for repair, determining the timeline for completing repairs, and determining who is responsible for different types of condo repairs. These rules and guidelines are usually detailed in the condo association’s governing documents, which are available upon request.
The condo unit walls usually dictate who’s responsible
Condo owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing everything within their units.
This includes common condo repairs such as fixing leaky faucets, replacing light fixtures, and malfunctioning appliances. Condo owners are also responsible for any modifications or improvements made within their units. Furthermore, if there is damage due to negligence of the condo owner, that falls upon the shoulders of the person who caused it.
The condo association is responsible for areas and amenities available to all owners (a.k.a. common elements), such as elevators, roofs, lobbies, and shared hallways. Major repairs that affect the structure or functionality of the building (multiple units) are typically handled by the condo association.
Condo repairs – owner’s responsibility
Condo owners are typically responsible for maintaining and repairing elements within their unit, per the guidelines set by their condo association’s governing documents.
- Interior Components: This includes walls, floors, ceilings, and any installations or fixtures within the unit. The condo owner is responsible for repairs and maintenance of elements like interior doors, cabinetry, lighting fixtures, and interior plumbing and electrical systems that exclusively serve their unit.
- Windows and Doors: In many cases, the maintenance and replacement of windows and doors that are part of the individual unit fall under the owner’s responsibility. However, this can vary depending on the association’s rules.
- Personal Appliances and Systems: Appliances within the condo, like refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, dryers, and HVAC units, are typically the owner’s responsibility to maintain and repair.
- Decorative or Personal Modifications: Any aesthetic changes or personal upgrades made by the condo owner, such as paint, wallpaper, or custom fixtures, are usually their responsibility to maintain.
- Balconies or Patios: If these areas are designated as part of the individual unit (limited common areas), the condo owner may be responsible for their upkeep.
- Plumbing: Water and sewer lines that service a single unit are typically a condo unit owner’s responsibility to the point where they connect to a common water main or sewer.
- Electrical: In many cases, the condominium association is responsible for providing and maintaining electrical service up to the meter that serves an individual unit. This includes the wiring, infrastructure, and common electrical systems that serve the entire complex. Once the electrical service reaches the meter for a specific condo unit, the responsibility for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades typically shifts to the individual unit owner. Anything within the unit, including the wiring, circuitry, outlets, and fixtures, falls under the owner’s jurisdiction.
- Air Conditioning Condensers & Heat Pumps: Maintenance and any necessary condo repairs or upgrades to the heat pumps or air conditioning condensers that are exclusive to a particular condo unit and located outside of that unit usually fall under the responsibility of the individual unit owner.
- Exterior Light Fixtures: The unit owner maintains light fixtures next to a condo unit’s entry point, which is controlled by a switch within the unit and connected to the unit’s electrical supply. The association maintains control over the fixture style that can be used.
- Damages Caused by the Unit Owner: If damage to common elements or other units is caused by the actions or negligence of the condo owner, the owner may be responsible for the condo repairs.
Condo repairs – association’s responsibility
Condo associations (and the condo management companies they hire) are typically responsible for maintaining and repairing common areas and shared systems of a condominium complex. They have a network of trusted contractors and service providers that they work with to ensure that repairs are completed efficiently and at a reasonable cost.
- Common Areas and Exterior Structures: This includes the maintenance and repair of common hallways, lobbies, stairways, elevators, and the exterior walls of the building.
- Roof and Foundation: The association generally handles repairs and maintenance of the building’s roof and foundation.
- Plumbing and Electrical in Common Areas: Any plumbing and electrical systems that serve the common areas or multiple units are usually the association’s responsibility. The exception to this would be if certain plumbing or electrical lines exclusively serve an individual condo unit, that condo unit owner would be responsible for those plumbing or electrical lines.
- Landscaping and Outdoor Amenities: This covers lawn care, gardening, and upkeep of common outdoor areas like pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities.
- Parking Areas and Driveways: The association typically manages maintenance of shared parking lots, garages, and driveways.
- Building Systems: This includes centralized heating and cooling systems, boilers, and other mechanical systems that serve the entire building or multiple units.
- Insurance: The condo association often holds a master insurance policy covering the building structure and common areas. This policy usually does not cover the interior of individual units or personal belongings.
- Safety and Security Features: Maintenance of shared security systems, fire alarms, sprinklers, and other safety features in common areas.
Confusing Example: Who is responsible for fixing a leaky pipe for a condo repair?
The responsibility for repairing a leaky pipe in a condominium unit can vary depending on the location of the pipe and the rules outlined in the condominium association’s governing documents.
- Unit Owner’s Responsibility: If the leaky pipe services exclusively one unit, it is typically the unit owner’s responsibility to repair it. This includes if the pipe is outside the defined boundary of the unit (inside exterior walls for example).
- Condominium Association’s Responsibility: If the leaky pipe is part of the common elements or serves multiple units, the repair responsibility usually falls on the condominium association. Common elements might include the main plumbing lines that run through the building.
- Governing Documents: The condominium association’s declaration, bylaws, and rules and regulations detail the responsibilities of property maintenance. These documents define the boundaries between individual units and common areas and specify responsibilities for maintenance and repairs.
- Insurance Considerations: Both the condo owner and the association generally have insurance policies that might cover certain types of damage caused by the leak. It’s important to check these policies to understand coverage and responsibilities.
- Severity and Origin of the Leak: If the leak originates from one condo unit but affects other units or common areas, the condo unit owner is typically responsible for making timely repairs to stop the leak. If the leak is repaired promptly upon notification, each condo unit owner is responsible for making repairs to their own unit caused by the leak. If the owner of the condo unit where the leak originated fails to stop the leak promptly, typically, a claim can be made against that owner’s HO6 carrier.
Benefits of hiring a management company for condo repairs
Condo management companies have the expertise and experience to facilitate a wide range of condo repairs, from minor fixes to major renovations. They also have access to a network of reliable contractors, which means you don’t have to spend time searching for someone to fix your leaky faucet or repair your broken air conditioner. Additionally, condo management companies can coordinate repairs, saving you the hassle of dealing with multiple contractors.
Management companies efficiently manage the condo repair process, from scheduling appointments with reliable contractors to facilitating the work. This level of care and attention allows you to have peace of mind.
Condo management companies possess well-established relationships with contractors. These relations lead to discounted rates and quicker response times. When urgent condo repairs are required, having access to a network of trusted contractors can expedite the resolution process, saving you both time and money. The management company’s ability to secure favorable rates and prompt service can ultimately contribute to a smoother experience for your condo unit owners.
When choosing a management company for condo repairs, look for a company with a good reputation and a track record of successfully handling repairs. Ask for references and reviews from other condo associations who have used their services.
Why condo maintenance and condo repairs are important
Maintaining the condo community is essential for several important reasons. First and foremost, it ensures the safety and well-being of all residents. Regular maintenance and inspections help identify and address potential hazards and issues, such as electrical problems, structural damage, or plumbing leaks, before they become serious safety concerns.
Proper maintenance helps preserve and increase property values. A well-maintained condo community is more attractive to potential buyers and can command higher prices in the real estate market. It also helps maintain the property’s overall aesthetic appeal, contributing to a pleasant living environment for residents.
Maintaining the condo community fosters a sense of pride and community among residents. A well-kept environment enhances the quality of life for everyone living there, leading to a more enjoyable and harmonious living experience.
Additional benefits of using a condo management company
In addition to condo repairs, condo management companies provide other services such as financial management, administrative support, and community engagement, which help condo associations maintain and communicate with condo owners in a timely manner. Condo management companies ensure a condo association’s smooth operation and enhance the living experience for their condo owners.
Tips for effective communication between condo owners and condo associations
Effective communication between condo owners and management is essential for a successful maintenance and repair process. Here are some tips to ensure smooth communication:
- Establish clear channels of communication: Determine the preferred method of communication, whether it’s through email, phone calls, or an online platform. Make sure everyone is aware of the designated communication channels. Bulletin boards or apps can be really helpful for residents to access important information and updates.
- Provide detailed information: When reporting a repair, condo owners should provide all the necessary details, such as the exact location of the issue, a description of the problem, and any relevant photos or videos. This will help the condo association understand the scope of the repair and allocate the necessary resources.
- Follow up and stay informed: After reporting a repair, follow up with the condo associations to ensure the issue is addressed. Stay informed about the progress of the repair and any updates or changes to the timeline. Call regularly if you don’t receive updates.
- Be respectful and patient: Remember that the condo association and management company are working diligently to address repairs for all condo owners. Be respectful and patient, especially during busy periods or emergencies. Trust that the management company is doing its best to resolve the issue in a timely manner.
- Professional Management: Consider hiring a condo management company to handle communication and administrative tasks. They can provide expertise in managing condo affairs and facilitating communication.
Understanding the roles and responsibilities of owners and associations ensures a seamless ownership experience within a condo community. Condo owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing everything exclusive to their units as defined in the Declaration, while the community association is responsible for the common areas. Hiring a condo management company can offer several benefits, including time and cost savings and access to a network of trusted contractors. Effective communication between condo owners and their condo association (or condo management company) ensures that issues are addressed promptly and efficiently.
If you’re a condo association looking for professional assistance with repairs and want to remove yourself from the stress of handling repairs and maintenance by yourself, consider hiring a reputable condo management company. They can handle all aspects of the repair process, from scheduling appointments to facilitating the work so you can focus on enjoying your condo lifestyle. Remember, a well-maintained condo is a happy home!
Seek the Help of a Property Management Professional
If you’re struggling to manage your HOA or condo association, it’s worth contacting a professional management company like Innovative Management for help. With years of experience managing COA and HOA properties, Innovative Management can provide valuable guidance to association board members, ensuring that your properties are managed efficiently and effectively. We offer various services, including financial management, maintenance, and homeowner communication, making managing your association properties easier. By working with Innovative Management, you can have peace of mind knowing that your community is in good hands and managed by experienced professionals.
Contact Innovative Management to start a conversation.