Water Damage: Do You Have A Plan? and Have You Communicated the Plan?
Water events are common. Roof leaks, window failures, plumbing leaks, failed hot water tanks and dishwasher melt downs are going to happen. The only question is when. Sometimes the problem is discovered immediately and sometimes a leak can be hidden, resulting in significant damage prior to discovery.
Owners will sometimes unilaterally move forward with water damage repairs without involving their association. This deprives the association of its ability to evaluate insurance coverage, warranty claims, and whether or not there is a basis for assessing one or more owners for all or part of the repair expense.
Associations should seriously consider adopting a policy that spells out an owner’s reporting obligation when they discover damage. This may or may not be addressed in the association’s governing documents. Either way, a communication to owners informing them, or reminding them, about their reporting responsibilities is advisable. The communication should include a warning that failure to comply may result in their being personally liable of expenses incurred.
In addition to reporting requirements, we recommend coming up with a concrete plan for responding to water damage – before they are faced with an actual loss. Most governing documents include provisions that authorize the association to immediately address emergencies. Governing documents generally do not, however, address the concrete steps such as hiring contractors and defining the scope of work to be performed to address the “emergency” as opposed to the eventual “repair” work. It is important to remember that once an emergency is addressed, the association may have additional procedural requirements to follow, potential insurance claims to evaluate, and contractors to consult. This process will eventually help the board determine who contracts for the repairs and who will ultimately be for repair costs. The process can take time and owners can get frustrated with the process, but it is an important process that needs to be completed.
We can help guide your association through this process when needed.