Who’s Responsible for Repairs? Board and Owner Maintenance Responsibilities

Say you’re in bed, and you hear what sounds like the shower going. It’s late, and you’re tired, so you pay it no mind. You wake up at 4 a.m. to get a glass of water and find half the rooms in your apartment flooded— you forgot to turn the shower off! You throw blankets and towels on the floor to soak up the water and call your building’s maintenance staff.

With the aid of a dehumidifying machine, they’re able to get most of the moisture out of the flooded areas. But the wooden floor tiles themselves are heavily damaged, and a fair amount of water seeped into your downstairs neighbor’s unit, damaging the ceilings, walls and some artwork. Who’s responsible for restoring the flooring? And what about the water that poured into the apartment below?

The Basics

Finding out what systems and features in an owner’s unit are his or her responsibility and which are the association’s responsibility can be very complicated. Many principles are universal but other details can vary from building to building depending on the rules of that particular community.

According to Lee Heller, a director of business management with Associa, a management company with locations across the U.S., owners are “typically responsible for the interior of their unit, the wall, ceiling and floor coverings. There’s a hot water heater or an air handler, their appliances, the plumbing and electrical panel.” Unfortunately, this would likely include those wooden floor tiles, unless your building administration decides to be generous.

“If it’s not spelled out in detail which quite often it isn’t, the general rule is, whatever is within the boundaries of the unit has to be in the responsibility of the unit owners,” says attorney Saul J. Feldman, founder of the Boston law firm, Feldman & Feldman. “Studs in; unit owners... Studs out; association.”

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2 Comments

  • The inference in you article implies that Limited Common Elements are the responsibility of the Association. In Maine, the Association is responsible to maintain, repair or replace but cost for the limited common element is the responsibility of the unit owners assigned to that limited common elements. Maine Condo Act 1603-115 (c) (1) and confirmed in our Declaration. The Maine Condo Act always takes precedence over the Declaration or By-laws.
  • I own a 2 story Business Condo with 3 other owners, each unit has its own balcony. I take good care of my property including maintenance to ensue the wood balcony is in good working order and not falling apart. its been 10 years and the the other 2 owners are asking for the HOA to build them a new balcony. My balcony has no issues because I pull maintenance on a regular basis. If it not in stipulated in the bi-laws who is responsible for the balcony, the owners or the HOA. The balcony is not common area?