When owners move into an HOA or condo development, most have a basic idea of who’s responsible for repairs and maintenance in their unit, and who’s responsible for the common areas—even if they don’t bother to read the governing documents, which they should.
Generally, it’s understood that the unit owners are responsible for items within “the four walls,” such as the floors, walls, etc.; and the association is responsible for common areas or systems such as the clubhouse, the electrical system, the hallways, and so forth.
But what happens when some areas are in doubt, such as the windows, or a grassy area right outside the owner’s door? What elements of buildings or developments are usually considered strictly the responsibility of the administration and staff to maintain and repair? Since there are several professions involved—managers, lawyers, maintenance firms and others—there are several perspectives.
Rules of Thumb
Donald Onorato, a Hackensack attorney, says it’s important to bear in mind that each development or building’s set of bylaws is different, so there is no hard and fast rule as to which party is responsible for any specific item or element in a given community.
That being said, there are a few items that are almost always purely the jurisdiction of the HOA. These include any exterior items such as brickwork, siding and so forth. He also mentions any utility pipes or wires that run through the common areas or service units.