Condo Association Responsible for Pipes but not Ducts

G.C. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I recently had a service man at my house to clean the dryer vent ducts and he discovered that the ducts in the ceiling between the two floors of my condo were disconnected. Unfortunately, the only way to repair them is to break into the ceiling on the first floor, reconnect the ducts, and then repair/paint the ceiling. When I brought this issue before the condo board, I was informed that it was my responsibility. According to the exhibit they provided, it states that “all vents, wiring, ducts, & system components serving one unit” are the unit owner’s responsibility. My argument is that this problem occurred due to faulty construction and not due to my neglect or normal wear & tear. Coincidentally, I had a pipe burst in my coat closet in the winter of 2015, and the association assumed full responsibility in making the repairs which were quite extensive. If you review this same document under plumbing/related systems, it seems to contradict their actions in that they assumed responsibility for the repairs even though this exhibit states otherwise. Therefore, I’m perplexed as to why they’re are unwilling to do so in this situation.

Mister Condo replies:

G.C., I am not an attorney so I can only offer you a friendly opinion here. From what you have stated of your documents, you own the ductwork and, therefore, the repair of the ductwork is on you. Pipes were not listed in the statement and, typically, service multiple units and are, therefore, in common and the responsibility of the association. I do not see anything wrong in their interpretation of the documents or their handling of this repair. You may wish to consult with an attorney for a legal opinion but I think this is your issue, not the association’s. As far as the problem being a construction defect issue, you may be right but this doesn’t sound like a very expensive repair. It would be far less expensive to simply make the repair than to chase down a construction defect claim against the builder or the association. If this happened in a majority of units, I might have different advice but from what you have told me, I would simply advise you to make the repair at your cost and move on. Good luck!

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