Who is Responsible? Making Repairs in Co-ops and Condos

Imagine this. Your contractor has finally completed the renovations to your bathroom - taking three months rather than the three weeks he promised. The wallpaper, special order wall and flooring tile match perfectly, and although you exceeded your budget, you are very pleased with the results. You leave for a trip and upon returning to your building, you are told by your doorman about the "big flood" in your apartment and how lucky you are to have been away. Filled with anxiety, you rush to your apartment and look in horror at your bathroom. The flood is gone and, essentially, so is your wallpaper and tiling which have been destroyed during the repair of the pipes in the wall. You call the managing agent of the building to ascertain what happened and to confirm that the building will completely restore your formerly beautiful bathroom. You are told it will not. You then call your insurance agent to notify him or her of the damage and to file a claim. Finally, you call your travel agent to book the next flight out of town to avoid dealing with the problem.

The above scenario describes an uncertainty shared by many co-op and condo residents: Just who is responsible for making repairs within apartments and common areas? If you encounter a similar situation, will you have to fork over the money to repair the mess? As a frequently-raised issue affecting cooperative living, this is the source of significant controversy and expense to many cooperative corporations and their shareholders.

Cooperative Obligations

In order to analyze the question of which party is responsible for making repairs to a cooperative apartment, it is essential to understand the relationship between a cooperative corporation ("Lessor") and a shareholder ("Lessee"). The resident of an individual cooperative apartment, unlike a condominium unit owner, is not the "direct" owner of the apartment, but a shareholder in a corporation. The corporation, in turn, is the title or leasehold owner of the land and improvements constituting the cooperative property. Ownership of shares in a cooperative corporation entitles the lessee to a long-term proprietary "lease" that grants the shareholder the right to occupy an apartment.

The lease is signed by an officer of the cooperative corporation, as Lessor, and the shareholder, as Lessee, and contains, among other things, provisions regarding the responsibility for the repairs of both parties. A lease will generally provide that the lessee is responsible for maintaining and repairing the interior of the apartment, while the cooperative corporation will be obligated to maintain and repair all other parts of the building. A typical lease contains four paragraphs dealing directly with repairs: Lessor's Repairs, Lessee's Repairs, Damage to Apartment or Building, and the Right of Entry paragraph.

The co-op is responsible for keeping all of the building, including all of the apartments, sidewalks surrounding courts, equipment and apparatus in good repair. The co-op must maintain all of the items except those portions that are expressly stated to be the responsibility of the shareholder pursuant to the lease agreement. The shareholder is responsible for repairs, however, if they have been rendered necessary by his own act, negligence or carelessness, or any of his family, guests, employees or subtenants.

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50 Comments

  • My pergo flooring was damaged by water from a building pipe . The coop will not fix because I installed the flooring. Are they right ?
  • roof repairing should be done by all flat owners or the one who stays on topmost foor?
  • If I wisih to do a complete wall tile job in the bathromms ,Am I resposible for chaging the wall pipes in the shower/bathtub area ?
  • Must landlord be responsible for the maintenace and repair or air condition. Can I shift the duty to tenant. This is NYC condo
  • I came home to find my furnace/humidifier leaked water for over a week and damaged the unit below me. Am I responsible for his repairs? Illinois
  • contrary to this article, my occupancy agreement does not hold the shareholder responsible for, as cited in this article: The shareholder is responsible for....including all meters, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, electrical wiring and conduits from the junction box at the riser into and through Lessee's apartment. How can the shareholder be responsible for wiring in an apartment, especially if the electrical wiring is over 50 years old and is within the walls? nothing in my occupancy agreement holds the shareholder responsible for the fuse box and wiring from the junction box at the riser. I am a bit confused. Thanks
  • I have a rental apartment in the Bronx in a private house which is undergoing bathroom renovation in one of the three apartments. I reduced the rent by $200 a month until said repairs are completed and my tenant (who is family) agreed to the decreased rent and has access to the other two bathrooms in the house. Does he have the right to hold the rent out on me completely until said renovations or is he obligated to pay me the rent minus the agreed-upon amount until said repairs are made?
  • when renting an apartment and the cable wiring does not work in the living room or in one of the bedrooms and the cable company tells you the apartment is resonsible and the apartments tell you they want you to have the cable company fix it and also have you pay for it who is responsible?
  • I am shareholder, the water shutoff valve with wall, it is leaking, who pay for the replace it. Thanks
  • just moved into an apartment Georgia, broadband cable advertised on sign, guy comes out and says wires over 20 years old RG59's in walls must be replaced with RG6 by apartment cause apartment owns wires inside wall. The apartment, stubbornly, says it's not theirs, it belongs to the cable company. How do I aproach this?
  • "What About Condominiums? Unlike cooperatives, the courts have determined "that the statutory warranty of habitability does not apply between a condominium unit owner and a board of managers since condominium unit ownership is a form of fee ownership of property and not a household interest involving a landlord/tenant relationship." However, as applicable to cooperatives, the Multiple Dwelling Law and Housing Maintenance Code, Building Code and Health Code of the City of New York are applicable to condominium units. The responsibility for repairs to the individual condominium units and the common areas is based upon the by-laws of the condominium which typically contain a section entitled "Maintenance and Repairs." This section specifies which items are to be maintained, repaired and replaced by the unit owner or the condominium. The unit owner is generally responsible for all fixtures, appliances, and electrical and plumbing installations within the unit except if they are located in common elements and serve one or more units. The board of managers is generally responsible for all common areas except those limited common elements which are maintained by owners of units who use them exclusively. Likewise, the board is not responsible for the repair if it is necessitated by the negligence, neglect or misuse of a unit owner or his invitees, licensees or agents. In such a case, the expense is charged to the unit owner. " What if the issue was an power outlet installed by the condo and that the wires inside the outlet were poorly wired that caused a spark and burnt wires. Would that be Condo issue or Unit owner issue?
  • I have a leak from my sink in the apartment kitchen. I own the apartment but the super and handyman state I have to repair the leak myself by getting a plumber in. Isn't that what all the monies go to when living in an apartment. My super and handyman should fix it, not me hiring outside help to fix things.
  • president is absent, structure needs attention president is absentee. building as cracks on upper walk way. nees to see if there is any thing under the cracks. so poke with the president to, seems not concern. is he responsible because of his neglet?
  • Question: We live in a condominium. One mail box door has totally rusted and the little rod holding the door into the mail box structure has sheared off due to deterrioration. The owner wants it fixed. The mail carrier wants it fixed due to legal issues and the mail, but the association won't pay for it. It is on the outside wall and contains 4 individual mail boxed all in the same unit inserted into the structure of the stucco wall. Who is responsible for the repair of this and where do we go to get it fixed? Thanks, Susan van Buren
  • i own a condo and have air condintion supply line that has bad leak which the lines run thru three other units attic and are incased on the outside of building in concrete to get to my compressor. my repairman states that my supply lines needs to be replaced. Who is reponsiable for the cost of repair of said lines? condo assoc. or unit owner
  • What about a door to a Balcony in a Condo. The door in question was imprpoerly installed (prior to purchase) and leaks when it rains. Is this considered part of the structure/common element in which case, per the by-laws the associaiton is responsible for repairs?
  • Emily Everett-Franco on Monday, May 07, 2012 1:18 PM
    Am I responsible for costs related to repairs, maintenance, and electrical usage in a basement that is exclusively owned by the sponsor of my cooperative corporation? please advise.
  • am i responsible for an electrical surge cause by meter malfunction that destroyed tenants computer and PlayStation?
  • Please answer the questions on the electrical surge. My condo tenant's were using the Stove, which also blew out, because of a power surge. We called the Condo's certified Electrician, who said 2 modules inside the Stove were burnt out because of a power surge from the Condo during maintenance work. They electric box has a power surge protector but failed to work. any advice is welcomed. Thank you.
  • I have a terrace where my dog occasionally pees. A condo board member tried to tell me based on a "complaint" by another unit owner that the terrace is a common area and that they can compel me to block off the area to my pet. I paid for the terrace when I bought the apt so I told him it is outside their purview even on this matter which I myself am inclined to correct sooner than later. Any thoughts? Thanks
  • our nyc coop installed a completely new intercom system in the lobby/building and a new in-"phone" in each unit. problem is, our original "phone" was bigger so the old hole in the wall is showing under the new panel holding the phone. shouldn't the building automatically fix (and pay) for this? the super seemed to have an attitude about it, and i have not yet pushed the issue.
  • Is a co-op in the state of Florida required to carry a Master Flood Policy?
  • I own a coop, no insurance at the time water flooded apt downstairs. I said I take care of it to get an estimate. He came back with ceiling damage repair cost of 2688. He said he would pay them and I should give him a check. Shouldnt I have a say in chosing a contractor if I get a better estimate? And Pay them directly?
  • On Saturday, June 8, 2013, while in my son's co op on 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights, I reached for a glass in the kitchen cabinet and the entire cabinet came down on me. This cabinet was installed before my son purchased this co op. After a day in the emergency room, getting a cat scan and a tetanus shot. Thankfully, I will be alright. However, to my dismay, the Queen Mary Corporation will assume no liability for the replacement of the kitchen cabinets. The cost is minimal but even though my son did not install these cabinets, he bought the apartment as-is. The cabinets were not hanging off the wall, there was no noticeable damage, they were not installed properly. Possibly installed by the former owner. This attitude makes me realize that the word COOPERATIVE is truly a misnomer. Does my son have any recourse?
  • PAMELAMOND@GMAIL.COM on Monday, August 12, 2013 12:34 PM
    WHO PAYS TO REPLACE AN OLD ELECTRCAL BOX THE OWNER OF THE APARTMENT OR THE TENANT ? THANK YOU
  • Are handymen responsible for repairs to unit owner custom bathroom work? Unit owner wants job done by building to avoid paying contractor.
  • I live in a coop. Our upstairs neighbor had a clog in their bathroom sink on12/4 and they called the Super to help them fix it. But when he snaked it, black gunk spilled out all over the floor. I didn't get home until later that night and saw a bubble with water dripping down into my sink. I called the super and he called the upstairs neighbor and they called a plumber. I thought the problem was fixed but it wasn't. The neighbor's son came down the next day and told me what happened and felt the super made the problem worse and caused the water to leak into my bathroom. When the leak continued I went upstairs to see where it was coming from but could not find it and brought down their plumber and the neighbor to show them the leak. She asked her husband to turn on the shower and the water was pouring out of the crack in the ceiling. She said it was not her responsibility and told us just to call our insurance and get it fixed. Her son had called the coop mgmt company and we have not heard back from them yet. Who's responsibility is it to pay for this? We didn't cause our ceiling to leak.
  • Most of the comments on here crack me up. You guys are OWNERS of a property. You own everything inside the apartment thus you are responsible for repairing and maintaining it. Electrical is your responsibility from your circuit breaker through out your apartment. The building is responsible from your breaker box to the main located in the basement or a utility room.. The kitchen cabinet story cracked me up the most. When the "Building Pays" as you guys like to put it this money is coming from the collective maintenance that is paid each month. This means when the "building pays" for something in essence your neighbors and yourself are covering this cost in a collective round about way, Why should the residents in your building be responsible to pay for kitchen cabinets that were improperly installed by a previous owners contractor? If you do not like paying for repairs inside your apartment RENT!!! The last comment about the plumbing leak seems like it would be an owner to owner leak depending on what the cause of the leak is. If it is bad grouting or faulty shower body this would all fall on your upstairs neighbor to repair. If it is a building maintained plumbing line in the floor then the building should be responsible to repair.
  • A few days ago, board member in the front apt. (1st fl) said her apt. was cold. The heat has been fine in my apt. which is in the rear of the bldg. 1st fl. Then the bldg. mgr. called (Wednesday Jan. 8) and left a message asking about the heat. I responded that it was okay. That very evening my apt. became so cold I had to wear a hat, scarf and layers of clothing in the apt. Now, Thurs. morning I'm freezing. There is very little heat coming through the radiators. In the past when my apt. was freezing I was told the front apts. were fine. Seems to me there's an inability to adjust heat delivery evenly. What are my options?
  • My mothers condominium in Florida was flooded due to rain. The HOA is claiming they are going to come into her home and remove all wallpaper 3/4 of the way up from the floor and remove cabinet doors. Who is responsible for this cost? They claim they want to prevent mildew. My mother is 91 years old and lives on a fixed income. What recourse does she have? She did not have flood insurance.
  • My condo was damaged by fire caused by renters in condo downstairs, renters don't have renters ins. Does the owner of the unit or her insurance bear any responsibility (not covered by HOA Ins.) for repairs to my condo and loss of personal property. Unfortunately my own insurance is not enough to cover my loss of use, personal property loss and structural repairs.
  • Is bill A4090 in effect? The bill says coops must distribute STAR exemptions within 60 day upon receipt of their tax bill or be fined $500 for each violation. Also it states eligible shareholders may withhold their maintenance until they recoup their STAR
  • Who is responsible for ice in the common area of parking lot? Also, if you are injured are you entitled to a copy of accident report?
  • We own a Co-Op. Last year we had to have our ceiling repaired due to a leak in the upstairs toilet and then again when that repair failed. then a few months later 75% of Our bathroom ceiling fell in due to a leak with the upstairs shower and damaged our custom made shower. We reluctantly agreed to let the board choose who would do the repairs. We were asked to find the serial numbers for the parts and when I sent the part info to the building manager he told us to buy the parts and pay for them. I asked that we would be paid back as soon as we provided an invoice and he sent us a letter of agreement. We did not see any payment for 3 weeks so we took the money owed out of the maintenance. After 5 months of having no shower and bathing with a hand held attachment that was part of the shower but that hardly worked we finally got the cieling fixed but it was fixed badly, the ceiling was bowed and the contactors assistant came to fix the badly installed ceiling but it is still crooked. It had taken a long time to get the repairs done due to shower parts being back ordered and because I was asked to do the work looking for the parts when I was alreadt busy with my own job and am not a plumber so needed lots of advice from the supplier. The plumber's assistant came and could not install the shower as I had purchased the riser pipe that would not fit due to a beam in our ceiling, He had to come back and work again when we got the parts we needed. The board want us to pay $400. for the first visit. We have never asked the building to pay for things that we lost and had to buy again when the bathroom was covered in wet, heavy ceiling. We were without a shower for 6 months, no fault of our own and we are the bad guys. Do we have to pay the plumber for the first day?.
  • There is a leak to the basement where noone lives since I live on first floor. The super told me to fix my batheroom tile because of the leak to basement. I dont see any leak or crank on my batheroom tiles. super assumed it is my batheroom tiles. I asked what is the proof to management and mgt said they wanted me to fix my batheroom tiles and grout. If still leak, mgt would check something else. This super charges too much money. He charges $250. He charged me for change batherroom and kitchen faucet for $300 labar materials separately last t ime. Who is responsible for this leak to the basement? Mgt tries to blame on me. Mgt dont know where is the leak coming from? I dont want to spend the money which is not my fault. Leak could be from the building pipe or Other shareholders. What is the proof? Please advise. Thanks
  • I am renting the Apt. in COOP building over12 years.Now, the unit-owner has intention to sell the apartment, and I found the different apt. in the same building for rent....Should I pay the fees,board,check the credit history as a new tenant?
  • Hello, My Chicago condominium management company sent this email yesterday after 90 days of requests for repair- “The owner of “X” Plumbing spoke with his plumber regarding your report that he scratched your toilet while rodding. According to his plumber, he did not scratch your toilet. Because we do not have a before and after picture of the toilet, Mr. “x” has to take the word of his employee. However, without admitting fault, he is willing to compensate you $150.00 for the damage.” I would love to say this was the only time the management company “had” to access my unit then found later that the contractor they chose had damaged something but it’s not. 2013 a different plumbing company somehow broke a mixing valve in one of the showers; now it only has hot water and the estimate’s for the repair include removing part of the wall for the replacement. What rights do I have as a unit owner when I let their contractor in my unit and things get broke? The 2014 has details that were taken care of to my satisfaction, it’s just this last thing. Thanks
  • The ceiling of my bedroom, south-east, leaks with heavy rain, and has been for at least one year . Board of management of the Coop has not really addressed the issue, or vague as to when the repairs will take place. What recourse do I have?
  • My bathroom plug was smoking ,caught fire. no damage.lost all power to my kids rooms and bathroom on Friday night. We capped it off and called on monday.well iwent in one room kinda dark and tripped over toys fell fell on my right shoulder hard.an hit my head. Hospital says its muscler. That was about 2 weeks agonow iI have numbness in my fingers and chest and back hurts and tingles in my toes. Headaches all to the point I thought I was having heart attack. 2hospitals say not my heart. Its unknowen chest pain.9days kater they fixed plug. What should I do. File a claim against them. Alot more stovecoils caught fire. What to do I have 5kids an a elderly father. Hope wr can find a house.and get out of this mess.
  • http://energyprohawaii.com/products-services/solar on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 3:37 PM
    The confusion in the HOA about this topic is infuriating. If things were regulated nationally it would be fine, but the rules all change based on every state's whim and the current board members. Usually the interior of an apartment is the responsibility of the renter, unless (like in this case) the leak was not the fault of the unit damaged. Even then, though, the results vary dramatically.
  • a chimney flue was buried in a wall prior to the selling of the apt. They now expect the coop to pay for repairs to restore it because they had approval to install a "new" fireplace. Who has responsibility?
  • I live in a co-op. A lawyer bought the apartment above me but is not living in it yet. In addition to the incessant banging and drilling for weeks, I've had water damage to my apartment as a direct result of the demolition/construction in his apartment. My insurance company paid out a claim, but I'm out the $500 deductible which I need to make the necessary repairs. The owner will not give us any money to help with the deductible. He suggested that we call his contractor's insurance company. Should HE be calling his insurance company or his contractor's insurance company? I'm completely confused about who I should call or write to next. Can anyone please give me advice?
  • All this is helpful; however I wanted to know who is responsible for mailboxes, the owner or the co-op association. We have tiny brass boxes from the early part of the last century that are too small or have locks we can't fix. Anybody know?
  • I reside in Mitchell-llama co-op which still has old Fuse Boxes, are they in violation of electrical code? Does the elect. Code require that all multi dwellings have Breaker Box rather than Fuse Box?
  • my fiancé and I are wanting to buy a condo. only problem is, we are uncomfortable with the aluminum wiring. we haven't bought the condo yet. who would need to fix this, the previous owner or the condo Relator?
  • I need help asap Someone please contact me on what to do I have 5k worth of water damage from the upstairs tenent taking a shower and could not turn the value off Who is responsible I can not afford this on a fixed income It is all my responsiblily The tenant supposedly fixed it but he is not liscenced Can not get ahold of owner Refuses to take calls Talk about neglience The HOA will not help The contractors said they gave me a discount which is such Bull They are saying owners will not pay nor do they have to because they were not neglience Please advise I am going nuts Need advise before going to small claims court
  • I need help asap Someone please contact me on what to do I have 5k worth of water damage from the upstairs tenent taking a shower and could not turn the value off Who is responsible I can not afford this on a fixed income It is all my responsiblily The tenant supposedly fixed it but he is not liscenced Can not get ahold of owner Refuses to take calls Talk about neglience The HOA will not help The contractors said they gave me a discount which is such Bull They are saying owners will not pay nor do they have to because they were not neglience Please advise I am going nuts Need advise before going to small claims court
  • There is a book on condo rules for your state…get it. If you want help, you ned to know the rules. Where I live, the owner is responsible for the tenant. If an upstairs unit has a leak, and it damages a downstairs unit, the owner of the upstairs unit is liable for any and all repairs to the downstairs unit, if the leak is confirmed to have come from his/her unit. Even if it is the tenant that caused the leak, the owner is still liable.
  • Usually, for such expenses, the individual unit owners are responsible for paying a portion of the roof replacement. Before your condo association decides to do any exterior remodeling, make sure they ask the roofer questions about the whole job and what will be replaced. The roofer should do a thorough inspection and note leaks, damage and other problems. One of the board members should be present at such roof inspection. I
  • Is the Condominium Association responsible for fixing patio structure that supports the upstairs patio