R.C. from Cook County, Illinois writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have been experiencing water moisture in the kitchen of my condo. The two walls are indeed exterior walls. The moisture is coming from the exterior I am almost 99% sure and NOT from the unit above. As a result, there is mold growing. I had an air quality test done to confirm the mold. Are the limited common elements such as the perimeter walls a responsibility of the condo association? In this case since the water is coming in from the outside, aren’t they responsible for fixing all the drywall and studs? I have to gut my entire kitchen to properly access the damage and someone needs to fix it before I put in a new kitchen. Thanks for all your help in this matter.
Mister Condo replies:
R.C., I am sorry that you are experiencing mold in your home. You are wise to have the air quality tested as mold can be deadly over time. As for responsibility for what items, it is hard for me to give you a firm answer. “Limited common elements” is a tricky term when it comes to unit interiors. Shared walls with neighbors are typically owned from the drywall in by the owner. That leaves a shell between the two units. That shell may also be owned by the unit owners, depending on how the documents were written, which brings us to the legal opinion you should seek. Typically, if the building envelope is leaking or has had water intrusion, the leak should be fixed by the association before the repair begins. Have you asked the association how to proceed? Are they acknowledging that there is a leak from the outside? This is one more question for the attorney. I assume you have homeowner’s insurance, which should cover your interior damage and may even pay towards the mold remediation. The association may have insurance to help with their own needed repairs from this leak although many associations prefer to keep their claims down to keep their premiums down. Either way, if they have liability they will need to make the repairs. Hopefully, once you are dried out, you can get your unit back in safe and habitable order. Good luck!
2 thoughts on “Who Pays to Fix Condo Water Intrusion Damage from Limited Common Elements?”
I am extremely concerned about Limited Common Elements. The condo documents in my building are a little vague but the Board insists that any pipe or electric wire that is dedicated to a specific unit, is the responsibility of that unit owner. My question is how can we maintain something that we have no access to? Also, what if the damage is caused by a common element (for example, a pipe leading to my unit bursts, due to a clog in the general, common pipe)? That would be the responsibility of the association? So how does one prove it? Thanks
L.L., you are wise to be concerned. I think the important thing to remember is that the documents, not the Board, determine what is and isn’t a common element. Clearly, you cannot maintain something you have no access to. The good news is that insurance will help protect you so be sure you have plenty of homeowners’ insurance. The reality of who is responsible for what rarely surfaces until there is a problem. Them, it can become a battle between insurers and or unit owners and the association. If the condo documents are vague, there is a lot of wiggle room for both sides. However, when push comes to shove and lawyers get involved, there is a usually a legal solution to who is responsible for what. The fact that you have no access to the “limited” common element should go a long way in your favor if there is ever an issue. All the best!