Shared Living, Shared Costs? Understanding Condo Maintenance Responsibilities
Taking care of home responsibilities is often an expensive and time-consuming process. Condo living alleviates some of this by appointing a condo association to handle repairs. However, this benefit can raise disputes about who pays for maintenance costs.
When you own a condo instead of renting, you're solely responsible for repairs within your private unit. You also pay fees to the association to help them fund major repairs or fixes that affect the entire community. Here's how to decide who pays for various maintenance and repairs in condos.
What Is the HOA Responsible For in a Condo?
Almost all condos have a condo owners association, also known as a COA. The COA board is responsible for setting the rules and regulations of the condo association and ensuring the shared spaces, public areas, and common elements of the condo association are maintained and cared for.
By belonging to a COA, members must follow the set regulations and pay a monthly or yearly maintenance fee that helps pay for fixing and maintaining common areas. A condo community is divided into three main areas: common elements, private units, and limited common elements, otherwise known as exclusive use areas.
As one might guess, the private unit or condo is the owner's responsibility as it is their personal space. The common elements of the condo association are cared for by the COA, and the limited common elements can straddle the line and make maintenance responsibility division more confusing. Here are some examples of each type of area and the responsible party for different maintenance tasks.
Maintenance for Common Elements
Common elements are the shared spaces in a condo association. As condos are set next to each other and don't stand alone, shared walls, floors, ceilings, and roofs are often considered common elements as maintenance repairs on those elements will affect more than one unit.
Other common elements include shared amenities such as pools, clubhouses, gyms, landscaping, mailrooms, and other public buildings. In almost all cases, the condo association or COA is responsible for fixing maintenance issues in these areas, including things like roof repairs and foundational issues. Typically, the only exception would be if an area is damaged due to negligence or intentional destruction by a resident.
Maintenance in Private Units
Condo owners are responsible for all the maintenance repairs within their private unit. The private unit refers to parts of the condo used by the owner exclusively and includes finished surfaces and everything in between, such as appliances, fixtures, paint, and hardware. This also includes renovations or changes made to save space in your condo.
Each condo association is different, so owners should check the COA declaration documents and regulations to see how the private unit is specified. Sometimes shared walls are considered part of a private unit and not a common element, so it helps to double-check the guidelines to ensure that something falls within the owner's scope of responsibility.
Maintenance For Limited Common Elements
The most complicated spaces of a condo association are "limited common elements." As the name suggests, these areas, while having some common elements, are also partially connected to the private unit. Examples might include balconies, exterior doors, siding, fences, air conditioners and heating units, patios and porches, and even plumbing and ducts that go through multiple condos.
In most condo associations, the costs of limited common elements are shared between condo owners, like in the case of a shared balcony, or by the COA and the condo owner, like in the case of air conditioner or plumbing issues like a burst pipe. Because limited common elements change from association to association, condo owners must refer to their contracts and the COA guidelines to learn who is explicitly responsible for what in their community.
FAQs About Condo Maintenance
Understanding the condo upkeep's ins and outs can be tricky, but knowing your role is essential for a smooth living experience. Generally, condo associations handle exterior and common area maintenance, while individual owners tackle interior repairs and improvements.
However, consulting your specific condominium's governing documents is crucial to clarify the division of responsibilities and avoid unexpected expenses or disputes. Still not sure who pays for what? Check out the answers to the most common questions regarding condo repairs.
Who's Responsible for the Condo AC Unit?
Determining who pays for HVAC repairs in a condo can vary depending on the condominium's governing documents and ownership structure. If the HVAC exclusively serves your space, you, as the unit owner, will most likely be responsible for its maintenance and repairs.
However, if the HVAC system is a shared or central system managed by the condo association, the costs might be covered by the association's maintenance fees. It's essential to consult your specific condo's bylaws or consult with the association's management to understand your responsibilities and potential costs.
Who's Responsible for Foundation Problems in a Condo?
The condo association is usually in charge of these repairs, as foundations are considered part of the building's common elements. However, some condo ownership agreements include the land the condo is built on. In these cases, the owner may be held responsible.
Who's Responsible for Roof Repairs in a Condo?
In most cases, roof problems in a condo are the responsibility of the condo association, as the roof is considered a common element of the building. An owner might be held responsible for condo roof damage if their actions, negligence, or alterations to their unit directly caused the damage.
For instance, if a condo owner installs unauthorized structures, such as a satellite dish or antenna, and this installation results in damage to the roof, the owner may be held liable for repair costs. Additionally, if an owner's negligence, like failing to report a leak or water intrusion, exacerbates roof damage, they may be responsible for the associated expenses.
Plan Ahead for Stress-Free Living in Condos
Living in a condo association can bring many benefits, like lawn care and snow removal, maintained public amenities like pools and gyms, and maintenance care for common elements. However, there will always be some maintenance fixes that are the condo owner's responsibility.
Knowing what types of maintenance responsibilities belong to owners can help them avoid confusion or frustration when issues occur. Condo owners should always check through specific COA agreements with the condo association for specifics on limited common elements and know what types of maintenance and repair tasks will fall on their plate. Understanding the lines of responsibility can ensure proper planning for the future while enjoying stress-free condo living.