Managing In-Unit Amenities Taking Care of All the Bells & Whistles

In an online forum, Sharon complains about her upstairs neighbor and begs for advice. Her neighbor had installed a washing machine in her unit, even though there was one already downstairs for the residents of her six-unit building to use. As a result of the neighbor’s improper installation, her appliance overflowed, resulting in a flood of water that came pouring into Sharon’s unit through heating and air vents. Now, Sharon’s wall-to-wall carpeting is ruined and she’s concerned about mold and other damage.

Amenities, Amenities, Amenities

While having certain appliances, such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and trash compactors in the units is a very attractive feature for a condo or homeowner association residents, these conveniences do occasionally cause leaks, noise and vibration issues between residents, and can also create a major fire risk. There are definitely pros and cons to having in-unit amenities.

“On one hand, it provides a convenience to the resident, because they don’t have to go to the common laundry room and share the machines,” says Kenneth M. Lovett, president of John B. Lovett & Associates, Ltd., a management firm in College Point, N.Y. “On the other hand, these appliances can cause suds to back up in the line, cause bubbles to appear in the toilet or sink of a lower floor, and cause floods. And, for dishwashers, having them vented out of the window is just not attractive.”

Improper installation and misuse of these amenities may also cause damage to the individual unit as well as neighbors.

“Water and mold are huge problems,” says attorney Cameron C. Pease of the law firm of Goldman & Pease in Needham, Massachusetts. “Let's say you're on the third floor and you have a washer that overflows. It doesn't just affect your unit, it affects the next unit and the units below. Same with mold, it may start with your unit, then grows to common areas and other units. Other issues are noise and cost; some residents might have a loud appliance that is making a racket. And if you have shared utilities and you have one person that is washing clothes all the time, that will run the utility bill,” he says.

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