S.F. from Kalamazoo County, Michigan writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our complex consists of almost 20 4-unit buildings. Some buildings have sump pumps in every unit. Older buildings with only 2 units have sump pumps. Are the “shared” sump pumps limited common elements for which the association is primarily responsible because it services 2 units? Are the sump pumps in the buildings where there is one in each unit the responsibility of the owner as their furnace or AC is their responsibility?
Mister Condo replies:
S.F., great question! Any association-owned property is the responsibility of the association to maintain. Since the sump pump services more than just the single unit where it is housed, it could be argued that the sump pump is a common element (limited or other). However, I have seen plenty of condos where the sump pump is treated as the owner’s responsibility. This is because the sump pump is housed inside of a unit and it is quite possible that the unit owner is unwilling to allow the association in for the routine maintenance and upkeep of the sump pump. Let’s face it, if the sump pump fails or isn’t maintained, the unit where it is housed is going to be the first to know and have the most at risk if it fails. One solution I have seen is to have the unit owners with sump pumps submit expense reports for the maintenance and, when needed, replacement of the sump pump. The association then reimburses the owners for their costs to maintain the sump pump. It is not a perfect solution but it does keep the expense shared (as it should be) and the sovereignty of the unit housing the sump pump intact. All the best!