K.M. from Arizona writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I purchased a new AC unit in 2013. All was well, especially living in Arizona where it’s hot as hades! We recently had a new roof put on the buildings and a few weeks later, low and behold, my AC is not working appropriately. My AC company came out and found a leak in the unit which they believe was caused by the roofing company. I am paying $700 to have this fixed. Curious if you have experience with getting an HOA to pay for this expense. Unfortunately, the unit is on the roof of a 3-story building. I am taking the word of the AC repairman. Seems a little coincidental that this is occurring a few weeks after the roofing job though.
Mister Condo replies:
K.M., I am sorry that your air conditioning unit was damaged for whatever reason and by whom. You asked if I have experience with HOAs paying for damage caused by association-hired contractors and the answer is “yes and no”. Laws on such matter are vague and vary from state to state. In most cases, the underlying issue is proof. Who saw the contractor damage your AC unit? No one! There is circumstantial that almost certainly leads to the association-hired contractor but that won’t likely stand up in court. Then there is the issue of age of appliance. In this case a 6-year old AC unit that may have a 10-year life expectancy in your climate. That would equate to a replacement value diminished by 60% (6 out of 10 years). I don’t disagree with you that the association-hired contractor was the likely culprit. In order, I would first notify the association that your AC was damaged and that the likely culprit was their contractor, according to your AC repair person. If they wish, they could pursue the matter with the contractor, who may be able to submit an insurance claim and have his insurance pay for your damage or he could simply pay for it himself. My guess is that neither of those will happen. Your next step is to speak with an attorney to see if you have a case or if it is worth pursuing. My guess is that a $700 repair isn’t worth spending more money on a legal remedy. If the Board or their contractor isn’t willing to make you whole, realistically, you just may be out of pocket for the repair as if the AC unit had failed on its own. It’s unfortunate but things like this happen all the time and I’d say, more often than not, the cost of repair falls on the unit owner. The good news is that it is a $700 repair and not a $7000 repair. All the best!