L.P. from Michigan writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Damage was found to a common element (garage door). The co-owner claims the damage was there when purchased in November of 2017, but never reported the damage to the board and no report of the damage was reported by the previous owner. Verbally, the co-owner stated the inspection done before purchase by the current co-owner documented the damage however the association board wasn’t notified. The damage was discovered by a board member in June 2019. It is clearly damage from the inside and not from age, defect, natural causes, or from an outside hit. The section was replaced and the co-owner charged. The co-owner does not want to pay as the current co-owner states it was damaged by the previous owner. Is the current co-owner responsible for the damage? The board takes the position the co-owner purchased with knowledge of damage, did not notify the association, and therefore assumed the damage and cost of repair responsibility.
Mister Condo replies:
L.P., that is an unfortunate situation all the way around. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. However, from what you have described, it is my opinion that the current owner is responsible for the repair, regardless of when the damage occurred as the damage was cited while under his/her watch. I am a bit confused by the term “co-owner”. Whoever owns the unit is responsible. If that is multiple parties, then they are collectively responsible. At the end of the day, I am guessing this is a very inexpensive repair. I would bill the owner and call it a day. Good luck!