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Unit-to-Unit Damage – When Your Neighbor Isn’t So Neighborly.

Unit-to-Unit Damage – When Your Neighbor Isn’t So Neighborly. 

Living in a condominium unit can provide for a wonderful urban lifestyle. One of the nuances that can often be overlooked is that many elements of a condominium are “shared”, including walls, lobbies, balconies, amenity areas, elevators, mechanical equipment, plumbing and more. With so many shared elements, it is not uncommon that your neighbors, as neighborly as they may be, do something that causes damage to your unit. A classic example is when your upstairs neighbor’s bathtub overflows, causing leaks in your unit.  

When this occurs, your property managers’ first response is to ensure that no one is hurt, and there is no unsafe condition. Following this, the manager will ensure that no common-area property has been damaged. 

If the damage is limited to the affected units, and not an association issue, then the matter should be handled between homeowners and their insurance providers. It is important for Board Members to remember that, while remaining sympathetic to the homeowner’s situation, association funds should not be spent to replace or repair damage that is rightfully the homeowner’s responsibility, unless otherwise specified in the association’s governing documents. 

If you become affected by unit-to-unit damage, here are a few best-practices to keep in mind: 

  • Contact your insurance company right away. You want to make sure you notify your carrier as soon as you become aware of the issue as it is not uncommon for policies to require homeowners to provide notice to the carrier within a specified time-period. By not doing so, you risk being afforded coverage. 

 

  • If remediation and/or repair is required, contact a qualified vendor right away. You want to make sure that: (i) no on-going damage to other units or association property is occurring; and (ii) that the vendor meets any criteria required by your association’s governing documents, such as minimum insurance or bonding requirements. You can always reach out to your manager to seek guidance on this. 

     

  • Notify management of when work to repair the condition is occurring so they can coordinate with any other vendors or other building operations that may be affected.