Who is responsible for condo repairs? This reader wants to know why they have to pay for painting their unit after damage from association work.

Q: Last year my condo association had a company replace the roof in many of our buildings. I live on the top floor of my building. When the new roof was installed it created a leak that came down and damaged my kitchen ceiling. 

My association is stating that they are only responsible for the repair up to priming, and not painting. I painted my unit about 6 months ago, now it’s going to cost me over $500 to repaint the kitchen. 

As the association engaged the roofers to put on the new roof, and the leak was no fault of mine in any way, how is it possible that I could be forced to pay for the repairs to my ceiling? I feel that this should fall on the roofer or the association. What do you think?

Who Is Responsible for Condo Repairs?

A: When you buy into a condominium association, you buy into everything that goes along with the ownership – including management and the contractors management hires to repair or upgrade items in the property. 

One of the rules that generally applies in condominium associations is that damage to a unit caused by the association needs to be covered by the unit owner and the unit owner’s insurance carrier. 

Let’s take a step back. In your condominium, you basically own the airspace that is within the walls of the unit. When you purchased the condominium unit, you might have received a copy of the condominium governing documents and the plan for the floor in which your unit is located. When you look at that plan, the plan will tell you where your unit is located on that floor and it will also show the exterior walls of your unit. You basically own everything inside the shell of that space from the drywall in, or in your case from the primer coat into and through the space.

If your condo docs are drafted this way, then you would be responsible for the repainting of your unit even though the damage was caused by the contractor. 

Pros and Cons of Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim

That said, you might be able to file a homeowners insurance claim for damage caused by the work. If the damage had been caused by a neighbor, you’d file a claim and your insurance company would then try to get reimbursed by the neighbor’s insurance company. 

The problem is if the cost is small, you might get an outsized increase to your homeowners’ insurance premium. You could talk with the contractor and explain that they have caused damage during the repair process and see if you can negotiate a few hundred dollars to repaint the ceiling. That might be a faster and easier thing to get done rather than filing insurance claims. You’d get your costs covered and everyone would avoid an insurance headache.

At the end of the day, this is part of the cost of living in a condo building, and you’ll have to eat this expense if the contractor won’t cover it for you.

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