The Aftermath of Damage
In the fall of 2013 our weekly email discussed preparing for emergencies and knowing what to do when an emergency like a pipe failure occurs. Knowing what to do when there is sudden damage at your association is always the most immediate concern, but knowing what to do in the aftermath is equally important and frequently more confusing.
After the immediate problem is addressed the questions begin. Who pays for the repairs? Who controls how and when the repairs are performed? Those are the primary questions, but there are a host of secondary questions that are equally important. Was the damage to a unit, limited common elements, or common elements? Was it the result of negligence or malfeasance by an owner or their guest? Do your governing documents have a provision regarding damage caused by the fault or malfeasance of an owner or their guest? Is the damage covered by insurance? If it is covered, who pays for the deductible? If some or all of the repair costs are not covered by insurance who pays for that?
Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to these questions. The statutes that govern your type of association will provide some general guidance, but the final answers will depend upon the language of your governing documents. You must look at your governing documents as a whole. Your governing documents will likely have sections devoted to damage, insurance, maintenance and repair, assessment rights and obligations, and sometimes a fault provision that requires unit owners to pay for damage they cause. All of those sections must be read together with the applicable statutes in order to properly answer the questions that come up in the aftermath of damage.
Ordinarily, the goal of our Barker Martin emails it to provide you with a quick answer to a common problem. Unfortunately, not all problems have an easy answer. But, even in this instance, there is an answer. It just takes a little work and we are happy to help.