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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Is a Condo Owner Responsible for the Cost of Plumbing Repair Inside a Shared Wall

    My question involves a condominium located in the State of: FL
    I received a letter from HOA telling me that I owed a plumbing company because they did some repair including "opened wall and replaced wast arm to kitchens and washer in units # & #". Their reason is "On page... of the ... Governing Docts, it states: '...Walls and ceilings separating two aparments shall be deemed party walls and the ajacent apartment owners shall be responsible for the care and maintenance of any plubming and electrical components contained therein. Any costs incurred in such care and maintenance shall be divided equally by the two adjacent owners...' My questions are:
    1. My real estate agent said I was only responsible anything inside the wall not outside the wall. Which is true?
    2. It must have been ordered by my neighbour. My tenant and I were not aware of this repair. Are we still responsible to it?
    3. I also heard that my tenant should be responsible to the plumbing problem caused by such reasons. Is this true?
    4. The letter demands me to response immediately. I am planning to response in a certifiled mail to the HOA. Is this good?

    Thank you in advance for your help,

    Umbrella

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: Is a Condo Owner Responsible for the Cost of Plumbing Repair Inside a Shared Wall

    Quote Quoting Umbrella
    View Post
    My question involves a condominium located in the State of: FL
    I received a letter from HOA telling me that I owed a plumbing company because they did some repair including "opened wall and replaced wast arm to kitchens and washer in units # & #". Their reason is "On page... of the ... Governing Docts, it states: '...Walls and ceilings separating two aparments shall be deemed party walls and the ajacent apartment owners shall be responsible for the care and maintenance of any plubming and electrical components contained therein. Any costs incurred in such care and maintenance shall be divided equally by the two adjacent owners...' My questions are:
    1. My real estate agent said I was only responsible anything inside the wall not outside the wall. Which is true?
    2. It must have been ordered by my neighbour. My tenant and I were not aware of this repair. Are we still responsible to it?
    3. I also heard that my tenant should be responsible to the plumbing problem caused by such reasons. Is this true?
    4. The letter demands me to response immediately. I am planning to response in a certifiled mail to the HOA. Is this good?

    Thank you in advance for your help,

    Umbrella

    Here are the answers:

    1) What your RE agent said is "generally" true for most condo CC&R's, as I was not responsible for plumbing and electrical in the walls in condo's I lived in or rent out. However, from what you quoted, yours deviate from the norm, so it appears that based on the CC&R's you are partly responsible with the adjacent owner. I doubt your agent got a copy of the CC&R's and reviewed them carefully as part of the sale. It is the job of your attorney if you hired one.

    2) If there is an emergency, then the neighbor or tenant should get repairs done immediately to "mitigate damages". Imagine a pipe bursted, and the decision was made to not do anything and let the place flood because you "have to contact the adjacent neighbor to get his OK". In fact, most unit owners do not know the CC&R's so it would be ridiculous to expect someone to find it, read it before calling a plumber, then contact you, have a meeting, and then call a plumber. Then damages might be ten times higher compared to acting immediately. So whoever called acted to "mitigate damages" cannot be held responsible for not finding you first.

    Also, many HOA's hire property managers to attend to repair and emergencies, and they are authorized to call for repairs, and then bill the HOA. The HOA would then decide how the bill is to be paid. So the PM is NOT required to get an HOA OK or unit owner OK in these cases, and authorized under a property management contract already.

    3) Tenant may be responsible if you wrote into the leases the tenant is responsible. Under most state and local housing codes, however, the landlord is held responsible by law under the "warranty of habitability". What I do is I have written into my leases that tenants are responsible for up to $200.00 for a repair. In some states, I heard that may be against state law as well, so what LL's have done is to "rebate" tenant rents on a periodic basis if they don't call with repair requests.

    However, you might want to be careful about implementing this. I had a tenant who chose not to call me when there was a leak under the sink, and he did not call a plumber or fix it himself either. I know for a fact he is not handy. After he left, I found the leak and found out he placed a pail underneath the sink to catch the water, and I noticed that wood on the kitchen cabinet warped because he may not have emptied the pail out on time on occasion.

    4) Based on the bylaws, there is no reason why you shouldn't pay, so you should be mailing in your payment.

    One other thought.

    Many condo owners feel that if the HOA pays then they are OK and feel better about it. You have to remember if the HOA pays, then all it really means is that the bill is spread over to all the owners. But if the HOA agrees to this, then anytime, anywhere in the building there is a leak in the walls, and it could be two stories up on the other end of the building, you have to pay part of the bill. So having the HOA paying everything has it's up sides and down sides.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Is a Condo Owner Responsible for the Cost of Plumbing Repair Inside a Shared Wall

    Thank you very much for the advice. Looks like I have to mail in the check. So do you always hire a lawer when you buy a house/condo? Sometimes I think once you find such a good deal, it's hard to let it go if the lawyer tells you small things like this...

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