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Understanding Maintenance Responsibilities in Your Condo

Of the many perks that come with owning a condo in the Washington, D.C. area, perhaps the best is the sharing of maintenance duties of your homestead with your condo association. While you are responsible for all of the maintenance within the walls of your home, the association is there to take care of issues such as a leaky roof or landscaping duties in grassy, common areas.

Any single-family home owner will tell you it’s a blessing on both your pocketbook and your body to not have to worry about doing this backbreaking work, however this division of duties can sometimes lead to confusion as to whose responsibility it is to repair certain items in and around the home.

Areas such as the windows or grassy spaces right outside the owner’s door can be tricky spots to assign responsibility to and confusion can potentially lead to conflict. It is important to understand maintenance responsibilities starting with what the association outlines in its governing documents. Each development can have a different set of bylaws, so assuming that certain rules are gospel for every housing association can be detrimental to you as a home owner.

“It all depends on the governing documents,” says Alfred Ojejinmi, a chartered surveyor and past president of the Institute of Real Estate Management of New Jersey. “For example, in some developments, the association is responsible for only the common lawn, in some, also the front lawns.”

Typically, a condominium association takes responsibility for things like common walls, common stairwells, siding and common piping, but it is always important to inspect the bylaws for any areas that may fall into the gray category.

Common Washington, D.C. Condo Owners’ Responsibilities

While the association should generally handle much of the areas outside of your unit, as a home owner, you are expected to handle any issue that may occur within the walls of your home. This includes the aforementioned window debate, and sometimes even roofs.

“Unit owners are generally responsible for everything from the drywall inward. In other words, they would take care of any repairs on the interior of the unit,” say James Rademacher, CEO of Rezkom Enterprises, a maintenance and renovation company in New Jersey.

These maintenance duties include water, electricity and sewer lines and fixtures that run only through your particular unit. If a problem involves a line that runs from unit to unit, the association may get involved in the repair process.

Maintenance Staff on Call

In many larger buildings, there are building maintenance staff available for minor repairs. They are not only extremely convenient, but they are usually familiar with the appliances, HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. In addition, they are inexpensive compared with outside plumbers and electricians. Best of all, you don't need to be there to let them in as they already access to all the units.