Who Pays for Interior Condo Damage Caused by Leaky Roof?

K.H. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The association of my Condo has failed to fix the roof properly over the years and has done patch work to fix spots here and there.  In June, we had heavy rain. Water came in to my condo and has damaged my windows, cabinets, flooring and back splash in my kitchen.  The Board states that the interior is my responsibility.  However, the roof repairs have been neglected for years because they did not want to spend the money on properly repairing the roof.  Should they be paying to fix the damage in my kitchen?  Thank you!

Mister Condo replies:

K.H., I am sorry that your unit faced water damage. I can only imagine the horror of having windows, cabinets, and flooring ruined by water. Of course, now that the damage is done the real question is who is on the hook for the clean-up expense? I hope you have homeowner’s insurance (HO6 here in Connecticut) or this could be a very expensive lesson in why you need it.

Regardless of your assessment of the Board’s history of repair on the roof, generally speaking, their responsibility ends where your unit interior begins. The condo association is generally responsible for insuring the common elements of the condo; unit owners are responsible for insuring unit interiors and contents. So, to that end, the Board is correct in telling you that the interior is your responsibility. However, if you have insurance to cover the damage, your insurer should pay for the repair and then, at their discretion, they could go after the association (or the association’s insurer) for damage caused by negligent repair. That would be very unlikely in my opinion as you have mentioned that the association has done repairs to the roof which would indicate they are trying to maintain the roof’s integrity. If the roof is long overdue for repair or replacement and the Board had taken no action to maintain or upkeep the roof that would be a different story.

Do you know when the current roof was initially installed? Is it still under warranty? If it is past its serviceable life it may be time for replacement. If the replacement has been budgeted for that should be no problem. However, many communities have opted to keep their common fees low and have not saved adequately for aging elements like a roof. That could mean a special assessment is on the way to pay for the new roof. Still, better to pay for the new roof than face the consequences of another water intrusion event. All the best!