Condo Board Members

Water, Fire & Other FAQs
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As a condo association board member, you juggle your share of important responsibilities. Many of them involve familiar situations with straightforward solutions. Emergency water and fire disasters fall into a different category.

The homeowners in your building expect board members to be prepared for everything. You need to be ready with the right information for condo owners and your association board. These 10 water and fire disaster FAQs can help.

1. Who is responsible for water damage inside a condo unit?

In most cases, the owner of the unit is responsible for water damage in his or her unit. This applies to typical mishaps such as broken appliances or clogged drains.

2. Are homeowners responsible for water damage to improvements they’ve made inside the condo?

Yes. Any improvements made inside the unit by the owners become their responsibility. This includes new carpets, wall coverings, baseboards, trim, cabinets and countertops. Even without updates, water damages to interior walls and floors are usually covered by the owners through their insurance.

3. What type of water damages are the responsibility of our condo association?

Generally, the condo association is responsible for water damage that originates from common interior areas and the property’s exteriors. Some associations are responsible for structural damages to the inside of individual units such as drywall, insulation and paint. Coverage is outlined in the association’s master building insurance policy. Encourage board members to become familiar with these policy details.

4. Who is responsible for condo fire damage?

Damages from a fire that starts inside a unit and affects adjacent condos should be addressed by the homeowner’s insurance coverage. Damages from a fire that starts within the building’s main systems are typically covered by the master building insurance policy.

5. How should our board handle a hoarder situation?

Problems that develop inside a hoarder’s home eventually affect adjacent units and common areas. The condo board should contact the hoarder and recommend a plan of action. You may want to involve the city health department or fire department. Contact a commercial cleaning company that specializes in hoarder home cleanup.

6. Are condo cleaning services different from maid and janitorial services?

Yes. Commercial condo cleaning takes care of big projects that need regular attention. For example, common area floors and carpets last longer with deep cleaning every two or three months. A condo cleaning service also handles jobs like property-wide air duct cleaning, exterior power washing and graffiti removal.

7. How can condo cleaning services benefit our building?

Certified cleaning technicians that provide condo cleaning services can quickly spot problems that might develop into fire hazards or indicate hidden water damage. They also provide specialized services such as burst pipe repair, mold remediation and biohazard cleanup.

8. Why should the board partner with a commercial cleaning and restoration company?

When you partner with a full-service cleaning and restoration company like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, you have a trusted contractor you can call day or night. Whether it’s emergency water damage cleanup or the aftermath of a condo fire, you have highly trained professionals on the scene immediately. You also enjoy access to an experienced staff who can help you understand and navigate water and fire damage insurance claims.

9. What if a unit was affected by water or fire from another unit?

Always document what happened. Homeowners affected by water or fire damage from an adjacent unit need to file a claim with their insurance carrier even though their property wasn’t the origin of the damage. Their homeowner’s insurance company will subrogate against the other insurance company representing the unit responsible for the damage.

10. Is the condo association responsible for any unit damages?

Carefully review your bylaws with other board members. All associations are structured differently. Some don’t cover anything inside a unit while others cover some structural materials. Often, the damage claims process involves both the association’s insurance company and a unit owner’s insurance carrier.