M.E. from Washington, D.C. writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live on the top floor of a condo and my walls have cracks running from top to bottom. who is responsible for fixing and when do they need to be fixed?
Mister Condo replies:
M.E., I am sorry that you have cracks in your condo walls. This is not an uncommon problem but the solution varies from condo to condo as the answer will lie in your governing documents and/or state law. First off, all cracks are not created equal. If it is your wallboard that has cracked (most common), it may be your responsibility to make the repair. Wallboard cracking is usually due to slight building settling which is a common issue in many buildings, not just condos. Many homes have small cracks in wall, usually found in corners or above doors. It is unsightly but is not a failure of the underlying structure, simply a sign of age. Most condo documents assign ownership of interior wall to the unit owner. If that is the case and you wish to replace the drywall, you certainly can. If the building has actually failed and you have broken support structures behind your walls, that may be a different story. However, there is no way for you to know that without having a building structure study done. Since the Surfside collapse last year, many buildings have been more thoroughly inspected and had engineering reports performed to determine if the supporting structure has failed. You might want to ask your Board when the last building inspection report was prepared and if the cracked walls you are experiencing were part of that report. If it is a new condition that is worsening quickly, it is possible that there is an underlying problem. Alert your Board to the problem and see if you can get an opinion from them as to the nature of your problem. If the building is structurally sound, you may need to decide to repair your walls on your own. All the best!