|Re: Lots of Gray: How to Assign Financial Responsibility for Homeowner Damage to Common Property||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Bygott (davidbygottyahoo.com)|
|Date: Fri, 25 May 2012 08:16:19 -0700 (PDT)|
I can offer a few diverse examples from Milagro Cohousing, where we have a fairly vigilant 'Structure and Maintenance' committee that manages building exteriors and tries to nip such problems in the bud, and an 'Architectural Review' committee that vets all proposed structural modifications. 1) Strict pre-emptive measures to protect community: A few years back, a member wanted to install photovoltaic panels on his roof, which involved drilling through the metal cladding and theoretically compromising the roof's integrity. Most of us trusted the contractors to do a good job and to guarantee their work, which indeed was so. But, as the community is responsible for roof maintenance, and this was a relatively untested operation, a pressure group demanded that this wasn't good enough. The homeowner must sign a legal waiver absolving the community from any responsibility for roof damage resulting from the installation. There was a lot of discussion and argument and polarization (What? In cohousing?!!). The homeowner, under some duress, paid a lawyer to create a waiver (hopefully as watertight as his roof), and the project successfully went ahead. Subsequently 7 more of us have added PV panels to our homes, we each duly signed the waiver, and contributed to the PV pioneer homeowner's legal outlay. So far there have been no structural problems and everyone is very happy with their PV systems. Each time a new one is added there is less and less fuss, it's routine now. The main 'objectors' have died or moved out, but looking back, I think in this case we were smart to clarify very precisely the limits of community responsibility. Given the current climate in our community, I suspect that if someone's PV panels were torn off the roof by a gale, the community would at least help arrange repairs rather than say 'you're on your own now', - but we do have the latter option. 2) Community voluntarily pitches in: Thieves cleaned out most of our workshop equipment one Xmas eve, and it wasn't insured. No-one could really be held responsible for the loss, we just didn't have very good security at the time and nothing like that had happened here before. So one member organized a community-wide yard sale, and the proceeds were enough to restock the tools - and to improve the locks on the doors. 3) Community conditionally refunds homeowner costs: We have had a few cases of bees nesting in people's roofs, where the homeowner has organized extermination, and community has paid because it is argued that it's S&M committee's job to ensure there are no cracks for bees to enter. However, some of these operations have been very expensive. We are now ruling that the community gets to choose whom to call in, as the guy down the road is way cheaper than the high-profile exterminators. We also ask homeowners to report immediately any sign of bees moving in. 4) Member voluntarily covers costs: For small items, say less than $500, where someone's negligence clearly results in equipment being broken, the culprit usually volunteers (or is persuaded) to pay all or part of the replacement cost. However we do have a small slush fund for repairs and replacement. So this is a bit of a grey area. 5) Preventive education: We have a community wastewater-processing wetland system whose microbes can be damaged if people flush certain chemicals into it. So far this appears not to have happened, because we make a big effort to remind all homeowners frequently which products are safe to use for washing and cleaning, and which are not. In this case, clearly it is impossible to police, enforce or assign blame. All we can do is impress on members what a huge and expensive stink (literally) will result from noncompliance, and they seem to get the message. Prevention is far, far cheaper than cure. We are getting better at it, but all the time getting better at mediation too and trying to ensure that neither individuals nor the community get stuck with outrageous repair costs. David Bygott Milagro Cohousing ________________________________ Date: Wed, 23 May 2012 19:04:30 -0400 From: Steven Hecht <steve_hecht [at] newview.org> Subject: [C-L]_ Lots of Gray: How to Assign Financial Responsibility for Homeowner Damage to Common Property To: cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Cc: Dan Groher <dgroher [at] alum.mit.edu> Greetings, 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? thanks, Steve Hecht (978) 635-1145 (call if you'd like!)
Re: Lots of Gray: How to Assign Financial Responsibility for Homeowner Damage to Common Property David Bygott, May 25 2012
- Re: Lots of Gray: How to Assign Financial Responsibility for Homeowner Damage to Common Property Sharon Villines, May 26 2012
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