T.H. from New Hanover County, North Carolina writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our property is being repaired from hurricane damage in September 2018. In the process, discovery was made of a leak coming down from the porch of the unit above us causing structural damage from over the years. The porches are plywood with a waterproof membrane over it and indoor/outdoor carpet over the membrane. The HOA management was made aware a couple of years ago of soft spots in the plywood under the carpet on our porch. The storm damage contractors pulled up the carpet on our porch to repair the flooring on our porch. The carpet on our porch is rotten in areas where water has collected and remained over the years. The HOA manager says it’s not the associations responsibility and I would like your opinion.
Mister Condo replies:
T.H., I am sorry that your property experienced severe hurricane damage. The last few years were particularly unkind to folks along the coast. While I am glad that your damage is now being repaired, it is unfortunate that some of the damage is being classified as pre-existing or not covered. Obviously, now is a great time to make all of the necessary repairs. Membrane over plywood is not a great solution to outdoor porches, especially in coastal areas where intense moisture is so common. I really don’t have an opinion on the responsibility because I would have to read your documents to give a fair answer. I will say that it is not uncommon for wear items such as carpet to be an owner responsibility. So, too, may be the underlying plywood, membrane covering and all. Are you the only unit owners who have suffered this type of damage? My guess is that the problem is rampant with many, if not all, of the decks suffering the same type of failed membrane damage. You might want to ask the Board to research a better solution. There are modern plastic products that might offer a water-proof fix and even look better. Failing that, I would think that you might need to pony up for this repair (and future repairs should the membrane fail again). And, hopefully, no more hurricane damage to destroy the new deck and carpet once the repair is complete. All the best!