Water Damage and the HOA....who is responsible?
With so many HOA's now it can sometimes be difficult in sorting out who is responsible for the damage when it comes to water damage in an HOA controlled property so lets look at some of the facts and help you figure out where you stand on the issue.
How do we allot responsibilty in the event of a water damage?
When it comes to condominiums and apartments the common practice is that the tenant is responsible for the interior of the home or "...from the paint inward." and the HOA is responsible for the exterior "...from the paint outward". The questions begin to arise when a water damage started from the exterior and then permeated inward to the interior as a result of a building failure in the exterior...who holds blame here is the common questions.
Often times the water damage can get extensively worse do to the time taken by the HOA and unit owner to discuss, bicker and point fingers neither willing to take responsibility. In this crucial time the damage expands exponentially and could potentially cause microbial growth and extensive secondary damage.
Step 1.) Read the Contract
When you originally got into the agreement there was a large amount of paperwork that was signed and agreed upon by both parties. Often times the answers to these disputes lie in the paperwork and responsible parties are clearly labeled and defined based on type and severity of damage. Typically the responsibility will fall on the party responsible for the exterior, especially if negligence in plumbing and roofing maitenance can be proved.
Step 2.) Identify the Problem
Often times in these situations the answer may come down to a technicality or a bylaw so it is imperative that you discover the source of the water damage as quickly as possible and then document it with both picture and possibly video evidence. Regardless of who is at fault it is much easier to identify the source of the damage earlier rather than later. The sooner there is an identified source and an action plan to resolve that issue is in place the better for all parties. It shows the insurance company that regardless of fault every effort was made to minimize and mitigate the level of damage.
3.) Let Your HOA Know ASAP
In situations like this it is imperative that the HOA is told about the problem quickly and clearly. It is the responsibility of the unit owner to inform and communicate as soon as possible so that the HOA has enough time to respond and mobilize for the water damage. You can never assume how they will respond so it is always in the best interest of all involved if communication is swift and clear and make sure to document that comunication as well.
4.) File an Insurance Claim
regardless of who is at fault, once the source is found and once responsibility is given to either party an insurance claim needs to be filed immediately. Insurance companies frown heavily on late claim reports. Let the insurance company know and invite them to send an adjuster ASAP so that all due diligence is handled quickly and effectively.
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact SERVPRO of Ascension Parish at (225)753-3434 so that we can help you anytime 24/7/365