New England has its fair share of wet weather to deal with, from rainstorms in the spring, summer, and fall, to ice storms and mounds of snow in the winter. Add in issues of frozen pipes, aerial flooding, coastal flooding, and water/sewer backups, and “Earth’s most abundant resource” (water) can quickly become a huge problem. Water damage is a common and tricky issue that homeowners all over our region deal with no matter the season. Let’s take a closer look at the questions to consider when trying to determine where responsibility may lie.
Whether it is a small “drip, drip, drip,” or a larger “gussssh,” the problems related to water damage can be one of the more complex issues when it comes to living within an association. There is often a fine line that determines who is responsible when it comes to water damage. Determining who is liable for the damage means taking into account several factors such as the root cause of the damage, the location, and insurance guidelines. The general rule of thumb for HOA repairs versus homeowner repairs are usually differentiated based on whether the damage is to the exterior of the building or the interior. Unfortunately, many cases of water damage tend to start on the exterior of a building and work their way inward. This makes it difficult to decide where to draw the line. The answer, then, to the complex question is often found within the governing documents of the condominium association.
Questions to Consider:
While it is difficult to discern specifically who would be responsible for what in this blog, there are some questions you will want to consider.
- Where in the condominium complex did the water damage occur? For instance, did the leak happen in a common area such as a hallway, stairwell, lounge, or gym? Normally, this would be covered by the HOA.
- What was the ultimate cause of the water damage? For example, did your toilet back up or a pipe burst in your condo unit? In that instance, your condo insurance will most likely be the one to contact about repairs, not the HOA. If the water damage is caused by a roof malfunction the HOA would probably be responsible for the outside damage and then determine if interior damage will be the responsibility of your insurance or the association.
- What is covered and what is not? Before you buy into a condo association, always ask what may or may not be covered. For example, would water damage be covered from a flood? Who would handle the financial responsibility if a leak originated in another unit and spilled over into yours? What would be the deductible in the case that the leak originated within my unit?
The answer to these questions and who is responsible for water damages is unique to each association. Be sure to review your copy of the master insurance as well as your own condo insurance. Any questions? Contact Thayer & Associates, Inc., AMO at 617.354.6480 or visit our website.