Q&A: Who Pays for Windows?

Q I seem to be in the minority on the board upon which I am a director and chair of the finance committee, as I believe that, since shareholders are lessees/renters, and the corporation is the lessor/landlord, then the corporation should bear the responsibility for the maintenance and repair or replacement of the entire facade of the building—which would include the windows. Our board is insisting that each shareholder find his/her own financing for the mandatory replacement of his/her windows, and that the windows will be purchased by the corporation with the monies they collected only from those shareholders whose windows were found to be defective. The corporation's bylaws require that it "maintain the building as a first-class apartment building.” Is it not best practices for the apartment owners/corporation to pay for window replacement on a per-share basis?

—Keeping It Above Board

A “There is no general "best practices" for this situation in New Jersey,” says Mary W. Barrett, Esq., a shareholder attorney with the law firm of Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville.

“Instead, the letter writer must review the proprietary lease to determine the respective maintenance obligations of shareholders and the corporation. Some co-op buildings may include windows as part of the apartment unit and require shareholders to maintain them at each shareholder's individual expense while others may exclude windows from the apartment unit and require that they be maintained by the corporation as a common expense (per share basis). Still other buildings may require that the corporation maintain the windows but that the individually affected shareholders pay the cost of such maintenance. There may be other important reasons as to why the condo board has proceeded with window repair and replacement in this manner, but as a board member the letter writer should ensure he/she understands this process. Admittedly, reading and interpreting a proprietary lease to determine what it requires in each instance may not be easy. If a board believes that the proprietary lease is unclear in some way, or is unsure if it is enforcing the proprietary lease correctly, it may want to seek advice from the corporation's legal counsel.”

Related Articles

The Neighbor Downstairs

Commercial Tenants in Residential Buildings

Homesharing and Insurance

What Your Board Should Know

Homesharing in Co-ops, Condos & HOAs

What Concerns Boards–and How to Handle It