Q&A: Service Contractor Liability

Q I am looking for information regarding service contractors (i.e. cable, TV, phone) needing to set up a prior appointment to access equipment that is installed on owners’ terraces. Does the unit owner have to be at home to let the workers through their apartment to the terrace to do the job, or can a super or other building staff member open up the apartment and be there while the worker does his/her thing? What are the liability issues raised by having outside contractors traipsing through private homes? Whose responsibility is it if some personal property is damaged or stolen during the course of cable/satellite/telecom work on a terrace?

—Upper West Side Condo Owner

A “In the absence of any provisions in the co-op’s governing documents (i.e. proprietary lease and house rules) regarding this issue, it is always recommended that the apartment owner/shareholder be present in the apartment when building staff, contractors, vendors or other similar types of individuals have access to the apartment,” say Barry Margolis and Neil Garfinkel of the law firm of Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP in New York City. “Of course, many proprietary leases give the co-op board or its agents the right to enter apartments should there be a need for emergency repairs or other emergency circumstances.

“To the extent the work is being performed for the building, then the co-op would likely have the liability for damage in a particular apartment. In this connection, the co-op will generally have a general liability insurance policy to cover any such damages. To the extent an individual shareholder has requested the cable/satellite/telecom work on a terrace, it would be that shareholders responsibility or the responsibility of the particular vendor that caused the damage. It is generally recommended that all shareholders maintain a general liability policy to cover property damages and bodily injury claims relating to their apartments to avoid unnecessary exposure to any risks relating to third parties.”

Related Articles

Q&A: Liability for Lobby Paintings

Q&A: Liability for Lobby Paintings

Avoiding Legal Blunders

A Crash Course Before You Crash

The Ruling Class

Know Your Governing Documents