A homeowners association’s bylaws define how the community operates. Typically, these bylaws include stipulations for how...
Who Is Responsible for the Upkeep of a Home: The HOA or Homeowner?
The regular maintenance of a condo building or complex is imperative to preserving the value of any planned community. However, sometimes it can be confusing to figure out who handles certain repairs; particularly when it comes to areas just outside of a homeowner’s property. We’ve put together a few general guidelines that outline who takes care of what when it comes to the upkeep of homes within the community.
How spaces are divided in an HOA
Most HOA communities or condos are divided into different sections or spaces, including individual units, limited common areas (aka exclusive use areas), and general common areas.
Individual units are areas that are separately owned by individual owners. Unless the association’s declaration documents state others, this typically includes the floors, ceilings, and walls of each unit including the airspace and paint on the interior walls. For a townhouse community, this term extends to the individual piece of land surrounding each individual unit, as well as any other structure/s within it.
Common areas are spaces within the community in which unit owners have an equal share. This includes things like the swimming pool, clubhouse, communal gym, landscaping, and even the roof. Everyone within the building is free to use these areas.
Limited common areas are only available to specific members of the community. These spaces are typically located on the boundary of their unit. A few examples of limited common areas include unique features like patios, balconies, and fences.
Who is responsible for what?
State regulations usually indicate how maintenance responsibilities are divided in the community. If not, turn to the HOA’s governing documents; including the Declaration, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). These documents should state who handles the maintenance of common areas, limited common areas, and aspects of the individual units.
Typically, individual unit owners are responsible for maintaining their own separate interests, while the HOA handles the maintenance of shared common areas. Limited common areas are the shared responsibility of the HOA and unit owners who benefit from them. For example, if two unit owners share the same balcony they’re responsible for ensuring that it’s regularly cleaned and painted.
Regardless of its maintenance duties, the HOA has an obligation to inspect general and limited common areas on a regular basis to ensure that they’re well maintained.
Maintenance of common areas
The homeowners pay for the maintenance of common areas through monthly dues and periodic assessments. Additional money should be set aside in the association reserves which the association uses for replacement of common areas.
Unit owners can track spending of their monthly fees by reviewing the associations financial statements.
When in doubt, check your HOAs CC&Rs
As a rule of thumb, most things inside the condo unit are the homeowner’s responsibility. Any part of the association that’s available to everyone is usually the HOA’s responsibility to maintain through monthly dues collected from members. CC&Rs usually spell out the responsibility of maintenance. Some associations recommend developing a schedule of all maintenance items and who is responsible for it.