Q: I live in San Antonio, Texas and looking to buy a condo. If there is a foundation problem with the property, who is responsible for repairing the problem? It’s a small condo complex of about 8 to 10 units, and I’m worried about buying into a small complex with a very expensive problem.
A: Generally, condominium developments require the association to take care of issues that relate to the common areas of the development.
If you picture a common condominium project that may include two or more apartments in a multi-story building, the association will usually be responsible for the roof, foundation, structure walls, exterior walls and other common areas. If you live in a 12-story building, the condo association would certainly cover a problem with the foundation.
However, in some situations, condominium buildings might look more like townhomes or single family walls that share common walls but little else. In these types of buildings, you might see the condominium association have less of a responsibility for the repair to roofs or even other elements of the building that you might ordinarily expect to see with a condominium building.
If you live in a condo building, and this issue comes up, you should have received a copy of the condominium declaration or other operating document that regulates the relationship between the owners of the various units and the condominium association when you closed on your property – or even earlier when you were looking at the property.
Specifically, you should see a provision in the document that mentions the parties responsible for the repair and replacement of the common areas of the building or other portions of the property.
Condominium documents usually will have a paragraph that describes the responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the building by the association and a different provision that describes the obligations of each homeowner.
If you’re just in the process of shopping for a condo, you can ask that the seller’s agent provide4 you with a copy of the condo declaration (also known as the “condo dec”), and other operating agreements. You should also ask for a copy of the building rules and regulations, plus a copy of the past two years of building board minutes budgets and the current year’s budget. That way, you’ll see if any big problems have been identified, what the cost to repair those projects is, and how much unit owners will have to pay.
Take a look at these documents and then you will know who is responsible for the repair of the foundation. But remember, it’s the building owners who fund these sorts of projects, so be on the lookout for any mention of a “special assessment” or an increase in monthly maintenance fees.
If any fees are going up, you should know that before you make an offer for the property.