Whose Responsibility Is It To Repair Limited Common Elements?

One of the most common controversies in condominium living is whether the unit owner or the Association is responsible for making certain repairs. georgecoppolo

Often, the Association takes the position that a unit owner is responsible to make repairs involving a limited common element allocated to the unit.

A limited common element is a portion of the common elements allocated by the Declaration, or by law, for the exclusive use of one or more, but fewer than all of the units. For example any shutters, awnings, window boxes, doorsteps, stoops, porches, balconies, patios and all exterior doors and windows or other fixtures designed to serve a single unit, but located outside the unit’s boundaries, are limited common elements allocated exclusively to that unit. Or a Declaration might allocate to a unit as a limited common element a particular parking space or a garage space, or it might allocate to a specific unit or units a pump that assists with water pressure or with waste disposal.

What does the law say about this issue? Most condominium complexes are governed by Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) as well as by their own Declarations, Bylaws, and Rules.

CIOA requires the Association to maintain, repair, and replace all common elements, and requires each unit owner to maintain, repair, and replace his unit, unless the condominium’s Declaration provides otherwise.

Thus, a unit owner must carefully examine the Declaration to determine what responsibilities, if any, he or she has to repair and or replace limited common elements. The important thing to understand is that a unit owner is not responsible to pay for the repair or replacement of a limited common element just because it is a limited common element that is allocated to his unit. It is the Declaration that defines the unit owner’s duty regarding repairing and replacing limited common elements in each condominium. If the Declaration is silent in this regard, CIOA makes the Association responsible to pay for the repair and or replacement of limited common elements.

Hartford Atty George Coppolo is a member of the Connecticut Condo Owners Coalition (CCOC) Advisory Committee.

This article is for general informational purposes only, does not constitute and should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author or the author’s law firm (Gordon, Muir and Foley, LLP 860-525-5361) and any party.  Statutes and case law vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may change from time to time.  You should consult a licensed attorney for legal advice relating to your specific situation.


16 Responses to Whose Responsibility Is It To Repair Limited Common Elements?

  1. Elizabeth Bell says:

    Our association has in the past maintained and repaired the limited common elements of our porches and stairs. However, there is nothing in our declaration that talks about snow removal in these areas and our maintenance policy with our snow removal company does not address this issue. We have received eblasts from our Board that we are responsible for the snow removal on our porches and steps. We find there taking on the responsibility of maintenance and repair should include maintaining porhes and steps in a clear manner during winter. We have had lawsuits re: falls in this area. How can we clarify these issues and protect unit owners?

  2. it must be the associations responsibility to clearly review the governimg documents with a potential buyer so there are no surprises or misunderstandings after the unit is purchased — rose bottinick

  3. who is reponsible for the exterior paint of a condo, the owner or the assosiation.

    • Philip says:

      Hi Lake Edge Estates Condo Association
      Brenda Mansfield-Mash of Mansfield Management Company
      called the meeting to order on January 31,2014 At 10:02 AM
      Balcony Repairs:
      The Association inquired about the balconies,Brenda Mansfield-Marsh stated that they are considered “Limited Common Elements”and each Property Owner is Responsible for the repair of there own Balcony 2 weeks the board fired her because she was to honest coz she would not go a long with the board
      iam here 17 yrs and she was the best we had pls get back to me btw we are in 8 units Building 4 in A & 4 in B building B has the balconies A Does Not have balconies our working budget is abt $35,000.00 Per Year the new management assess us $3,066.00 To replace them. the way I understand the new management
      should have assess us 10% of the working budget $3,500.00 Divided By 8 = $437.50 we are in Florida
      Thank You Phil

  4. lynne schnell says:

    There are several lanais in my building that are in need of repair. The lanais are considered limited common area and while my lanai is in A shape others are not. The HOA officer had to enter my apartment to determine the extent of damage, if any. Since when I bought the unit, there was no way of knowing that several units were not in good condition. I would have offered the seller less $

  5. Brian Hill says:

    A repairman familiar with housing foundations told me that my condo’s cracks in its interior walls and ceiling are the result of the building’s shifting foundation.

    Does my homeowners’ association have a responsibility to pay for repair of my cracks? The building’s foundation appears to me come under the Common Element definition. If that is so, does not the association have an obligation to at least bear part of the repair expense?

  6. Carme M says:

    It’s best to review your condo bylaws first; then talk to your management company as well as your HOA. Bring up your concerns at your next condo meeting. You can email your concerns/questions to them. I have lived in a condo for 20 years now and we are in the process of obtaining estimates and selecting a pro home1 windows contractor in IL. Fortunately, we have been blessed with competent people and have partial funds to replace the windows. The remaining portion will be covered by the individual unit owners.

  7. BB says:

    You say that the CIOA requires the association to maintain, repair, and replace all common elements. Does that include the Limited common elements? Where in the law does it specifically say that? You list what limited common elements are, such as outside doors, windows etc. Does the law specifically list those? If an association puts in it’s by-laws that the unit owners must pay for replacement of Windows and sliding doors for example, then do the by-laws super-cede the CIOA law? We are being charged for those by management, if this is illegal for them to do, what recourse do we have? Thank you for your attention to my questions. Your reply is important to us.

  8. BB says:

    On November 28,2015 at 12:54 am I asked some questions with the hope that someone in your organization would reply. Unit owners look to you for answers to questions that would help them deal with managers and associations. To date no reply from you.My questions only require answers as to what the law actually says. You made statements in your presentation that I wish to find out if they are written in law so that the correct information can be used to correct actions by manager and/or association that are in violation of this law. I would appreciate a reply as to whether you will answer my questions or not.
    Thank you for your attention to my requests.

    • Michael X says:

      Dear BB, My general understanding of your issue is that, in general, your Declaration can make a unit owner responsible for paying for repairs to your attached limited common element (LCE). If the Declaration so stipulates, then it probably governs. If the Declaration is silent, then the CIOA probably governs. The CIOA allows the Declaration to govern. Nevertheless, in either case, the Association has both duty and authority to maintain all common elements, including LCEs. If your Declaration makes you responsible for maintaining your LCE, then the Association has the authority to make repairs to your LCE and assess your unit for such cost. (My understanding, not legal advice.)

  9. Gerald Herring says:

    I am the treasurer of a condo association in GA. which has 29 buildings and all are triplexes. We have a building which has a water line with leak between meter and the building. All 3 units in building are owned by 1 person and are rented out.
    I say the Assoc is responsible to repair or replace the line.
    What is your opinion?

  10. JTurner says:

    I live in a condominium association (HOA). It is my understanding that my driveway is considered a limited common element and is designated for my ‘exclusive use’. Does the co-owner who lives next door to me have the right to walk across my driveway to access his unit? I have asked him several times to walk to the sidewalk and access his unit via the sidewalk and his own driveway rather than cut across my driveway. I am responsible for the maintenance, upkeep and snow removal of the driveway. Thanks. JT

  11. Michael X says:

    What does your Declaration say? I think that, in general, this could go either way, even though the line may supply only one building. Moreover, the Association is probably responsible for maintaining the line. The cost of such repair, however, may be a common expense of the Association share by all units, or limited to the three benefiting units.
    Depends on your Declaration, I think.

  12. C. Marshall says:

    One condo building was to be repaired this year mid season for nails popping out, rotted wood, decks and much needed painting. We have been paying an assessment for these repairs. Plus last November the association property management did a walk through and they were informed of our problems. I called today to find that they will not be repairing the building this year for other problems have come what. We have dirty water several times a month and sometime can smell bleach but the board and association property management just does not care. Our building has not been repaired or painted in over fourteen years. If you complain to them they either have a board member scream at your or totally ignor you. I can not afford to hire an attorney so where else can I go?

  13. J. Hoda says:

    I own a condo that I am renting out. My tenant called me to tell me that the ceiling in his bathroom above the tub collapsed. My handyman said that the cause of the ceiling collapse was due to the deteriorated drain pipe and fittings from the bath tub in the unit above mine.
    Common Elements? Is it the upstairs Condo owners resposibility for the repair of the pipe and my ceiling? My condo by laws follow the Condominium Act of 1976 In the meantime, It is still leaking every time the upstairs resident takes a bath or showers.

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