R.R. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hi, Mr. Condo! My condo by-laws make clear that I am responsible for window repairs and replacement (“Exclusive Limited Common Elements”). However, I have a worn-out skylight (condensation between the double panes and leakage resulting in stained ceiling) and am not 100% clear who is responsible for its repair or replacement. Should my skylight (part of the original building’s construction) be considered a window, or is it part of the roof?
Mister Condo replies:
R.R., believe it or not, yours is an age-old question in many condominiums, not just here but around the country! Unless the documents clearly spell out the responsibility, it usually comes down to how the association has handled it in the past. The argument can be made that the skylights are part of the roof; clearly, they protect the building from water penetration. However, the counter argument is that unlike traditional roofing materials, the skylight is for your exclusive use (it only lets in the light over your unit, similar to a window) so it should be treated as a window, which as you have seen, is a limited common element for which you are responsible. The added challenge is replacing the skylight with one of similar design. If your condo is 20 to 30 years old (as many are) then the model of skylight installed back then is very likely no longer available meaning the Board will need to approve the new model before it is installed. The good news is that skylights are typically not all that expensive and they do last a long time. Check to see how the association has handled it in the past and stick with that program. The bottom line is that you will get a new skylight, enjoy its beauty, and protect your unit from further water intrusion. All the best!