Lots of Gray: How to Assign Financial Responsibility for Homeowner Damage to Common Property
From: Steven Hecht (steve_hechtnewview.org)
Date: Wed, 23 May 2012 16:04:37 -0700 (PDT)

After seventeen years on-site here at New VIew Cohousing in Acton, MA we
are now wrestling with how to assign financial costs when a lapse in
homeowner maintenance causes damage to common (condo) property. For
instance: Our condo docs place window ownership (hence maintenance) into
the hands of the unit owner. If the window develops rot in the frame or the
sill, moisture can percolate down around the window and damage the exterior
envelope of the house, which belongs to the condo. The first round of
repairs to damaged envelopes was picked up by the group because we were
unaware (!) that our condo docs assigned window ownership to the home
owner. In the future we have decided that lapses in window integrity that
damage common property will be the responsibility of the homeowner. Another
example: Shrubs that grow too close to the house exterior that causes
rot/damage to the trim or the clapboard.

I'm writing to find out how other groups have dealt with this issue. There
are a lot of potential gray areas in assigning fault/responsibility to the
homeowner when private property interfaces with common property. Does your
group hold strictly to the condo docs and give no wiggle room to the unit
owners in cases like this, or have you implemented some kind of mediation
protocol to resolve potential conflicts?

Steve Hecht
(978) 635-1145 (call if you'd like!)

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