E.U. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
2 units in our smaller complex have a history of water seepage in the basement according to owners. Most recently the board has addressed issues by bringing in a contractor to water proof a wall on the outside and even repair the inside after some water came into the unit. The insurance covered a portion of that repair but the majority was covered by the association ($20k). Further, siding and gutter repairs and service moved water away from the foundation. Months later the owner of the repaired unit is coming to the board again this time claiming mold and moisture in floor. The prior repairs were overseen by the unit owner who was then also the board president (since stepped off the board). The condo management company recommended the contractor but has a history of failing to oversee the work of contractors. The owner is also threatening to involve an attorney. When do the association responsibilities end and the owner has to take responsibility for repairs? Where is the line between unit and common ground of the condo association?
Mister Condo replies:
E.U., I am sorry that your buildings are leaking and that your owners are having issues. I am not an attorney so I offer no legal advice in this column. If this homeowner sues, the association will most certainly want to hire an attorney to defend their position. Water leakage that is caused by a common element and the resulting damage to the unit is likely a combination of association and homeowner responsibility. Typically, the homeowner’s insurance is used to pay for damage to the unit’s interior. The association is responsible for the exterior. However, cellars and foundations may be spelled out differently in the deed or the governing documents so both will come into play when determining responsibility. The association took responsibility for the exterior repairs from what you have stated. Mold and moisture may be issues for the homeowner but they may also be responsible for their remediation. Since it looks like attorneys are about to get involved, this should be settled quite quickly. A legal interpretation of both your governing documents and any relevant state law should bring the matter to a speedy resolution. All the best!