All I’ve heard about this winter is Frozen. No, not the movie, but the pipes.  For condos (and to some extent townhomes), cold weather brings the cold reality of one familiar theme … frozen pipes, leading to water leaks, resulting in damage.  And, one of the most common disputes in a community association is the dispute over who is responsible for paying for that damage.  More often than not, boards and managers presume the owner or party responsible for maintaining the pipe is also responsible for all damage caused by the leak.  However, that’s not always the case, as liability for repairs is determined through a number of factors, including language of the governing documents, applicable insurance, and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Determining who is responsible for damage could be a complicated matter, so before jumping to any conclusions make sure you discuss with the association’s legal counsel.  Our article Cold Weather Maintenance Headaches may be helpful in your review.

And, if you’re stuck on the idea that the owner of the pipe is always responsible for the damage, as Elsa would say…LET IT GO.

Melissa M. Garcia, Esq.
One response to “Cold Weather Brings Cold Reality for Condos
  1. True words. This is why I always like to decide these issues before the heat (or cold) of the moment, when heads are not clear, and adopt policies and procedures that are published and distributed. Then, you can just point to the policy and say, “See what it says?” One pipe that most do not ever think about is the fire-sprinkler line. Some systems must have anti-freeze (glycol or glycerin) in the lines to prevent freezing, and the level of anti-freeze should be tested every fall and replaced every-three years. Other than that, in our HOA, we’ve never had an issue with frozen pipes, which is amazing, considering the number of construction defects we have. Many buildings were designed by folks in warm-weather states (such as California), and have uninsulated pipes in outside walls. At any rate, in any loss, all the affected parties should immediately notify their respective insurance carriers, and let them sort out the details. That’s why we have insurance, no?
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