What Recourse Does A Connecticut Condo Owner Have If The Association’s Contractor Damages His Unit?

Question from JH

Here is one item that brings may questions and concerns with owners of a condo where the board has hired a contractor to perform work on the exterior of all buildings which results in interior damages to units causing anything from nail pops to cracks in Sheetrock.

Both the board and the contractor have repeatedly stated that they are not responsible for damage caused by this remodel and there is no recourse for owners.

However, we are prohibited in nailing or fastening anything to the new siding and if found, be fined and or financially responsible for the repairs to the siding or decking caused by our actions.

The question everyone has is how can the board and the contractor indemnify themselves from unit owners damages caused directly by the work performed? If an owner or his/her contractor damages common property they will be responsible for cost of damages and repairs to the common property.

We do not have any contractual agreement between unit owners and the contractor so how can they not be held responsible for damages incurred to units?

There is a negligence clause in the declaration stating: “The Association shall reimburse Unit Owners for damages to their units caused intentionally, negligently or by it’s failure to maintain, repair, or make replacements to the Common Elements or other portions of the property to be maintained, repaired or replaced by the Association.”

Owners have been getting no where with the board or the contractor in repairs caused by this remodel/ residing of buildings and have basically told owners we are responsible for the damage caused by the contractor to our own units and not the board or the contractor will be held responsible.

What recourse do we have as owners? One has suggested taking the contractor to small claims court to sue for the cost of the repairs to their unit.

What is your experience in this and what actions can owners do to protect themselves from damages caused by the associations contractors?

Answer Condo Atty Patricia Ayars:

In this situation, the unit owner’s recourse is against the Association.  And, you can bring a small claims action against the Association for damages.  Remember that in small claims court, you can only get damages, not an order to force the Association to repair your unit.

There are several causes of action (that is, the legal theories on which the Court acts) on which you can base your case.  First, you can allege that the Association owes damages because of the clause in the Declaration that you have quoted.

The second cause of action is based on provisions of the Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act.  Section 47-255(a) of the Act requires the Association to insure your unit’s physical structures (including sheet rock, paint and wallpaper).  Under 47-255(h) requires the Association to repair damage to these portions.  It does not matter if the Association insurance does not cover the damages, whether the amount to repair is less than the deductible, or whether the Association is at fault.  The Association must repair the damage and the costs of the repair are common expenses. Your claim is based on their failure of the Association to make the repairs.

When you bring your action against the Association, make both of these claims.  Be sure to quote the Declaration section and the sections of the Act.  You may wish to include copies of the provisions with your complaint.  Be sure to mention that you asked the Association to make the repairs and they refused.

You would have a more difficult case against the contractor.  As you note, the contract was between the contractor and the Association, so the Association, not you, has the right to sue the contractor for breach of contract.  You would have to prove that the contractor acted negligently in damaging your unit.  This might be hard to prove.  The Association can sue the contractor after you sue the Association.
Attorney Patricia A. Ayars
Glastonbury
(860) 652-7070

Atty Ayars is a member of the CCOC Advisory Committee

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2 Responses to What Recourse Does A Connecticut Condo Owner Have If The Association’s Contractor Damages His Unit?

  1. H. says:

    Re: damage done to unit owner’s property by Assoc. contractor.

    My situation is somewhat different. I own the unit and the lot it sits on. However, according to our Declaration, the assoc. is responsible for mowing the lawn. Last June I incurred damage to the siding(vinyl) by a stone thrown up by the mower blades. I have a hole and cracks in one strip of siding. The contractor is insured but wants to make the repair himself without filing an insurance claim. The B.O.D is aware of the situation and it was agreed that because the incident happening during the contractor’s busy season he would take care of it before winter.
    Well, here we are and nothing has been done.
    Though I believe the contractor is reputable, I have conerns about the Assoc. not renewing his contract or the business being sold to a larger company.
    The Assoc. insurance covers common elements. My insurance covers my property.
    What action should I be taking?

    Thanks for any advice.

  2. Brittany says:

    As a contractor who specializes in condominium maintenance I say if we are working on the exterior of a unit and something we do does some damage on the interior we make the repairs at our cost.If I am doing siding I ask the board/manager to notify unit owners of the units which we are doing work on. And ask them if they have art work or decorative plates or anything hanging on the walls that they remove it for the duration of the work being done. As contractors I believe structural damage done by us that we are obligated to repair.

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