Who's Responsible for Repairs? Board and Owner Maintenance Responsibilities

Say you’re in bed, and you hear what sounds like the shower going. It's late, and you're tired, so you pay it no mind. You wake up at 4 a.m. to get a glass of water and find half the rooms in your apartment flooded— you forgot to turn the shower off! You throw blankets and towels on the floor to soak up the water and call your building’s maintenance staff.

With the aid of a dehumidifying machine, they’re able to get most of the moisture out of the flooded areas. But the wooden floor tiles themselves are heavily damaged, and a fair amount of water seeped into your downstairs neighbor's unit, damaging the ceilings, walls and some artwork. Who’s responsible for restoring the flooring? And what about the water that poured into the apartment below?

The Basics

Finding out what systems and features in an owner's unit are his or her responsibility and which are the association’s responsibility can be a very complicated. Many principles are universal, but other details can vary from building to building depending on the rules of that particular community.

According to Lee Heller, a director of business management with Associa, (a management company with locations across the U.S., including two in the Chicagoland area) owners are “typically responsible for the interior of their unit, the wall, ceiling and floor coverings. There's a hot water heater or an air handler, their appliances, the plumbing and electrical panel.” Unfortunately, this would likely include those wooden floor tiles, unless your building administration decides to be generous.

An exception, however, is piping inside the walls, says Robert Meyer, a director of engineering services for national property-management firm FirstService Residential of Illinois. “In a typical condominium association, all domestic plumbing contained within the walls (risers) belongs to the association. Conversely, the owner’s responsibility is on their side (or inside) of that wall. The unit owner is responsible for all the plumbing fixtures within their unit—tubs, toilets, sinks, faucets and drain lines from their unit to the vertical main line,” Meyer explains.


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  • I have a small electrical room that I can not space seven 200 amps electrical meters. Could I put four and then above that three more. Is this alright with the Chicago Electrical Code of 2018? Thank you for the info.
  • My elevator in condo has been non operation I live on the top floor am quadapheilic in a wheelchair I'm trapped over 10 days. What is my recourse
  • I have water coming up in my sink from someone else unit. The board tells me that my responsibility... I tried to explain my drain wasn't clog or water could not come up it! The common drain has to be and not allowing mine and other units water to go down. They refuse to help and tell me its my problem. This has happened 3 times in three years. We have paid for the plummer to snake the drain. They have told us because they are getting mud out of it, they think we have a broken or cracked old clay pipe. and want a small fortune to determine that. I don't feel it my problem to open and repair a drain that is serving others in the complex. What can I do? When I came home from work yesterday my sink was completely fill of someones soppy water!
  • I leave in a tap floor. The garars haven't been fixed properly and I have flooded my unit. I kept a carpeting in my balcony to keeps water coming back to my unit. The board refused to fixed the problems with a garars. Can I take a legal action against the board. They sent me a fine with out any note to remove the carpet. When I will remove the carpet from a balcony I will have again wet wood floor. What I should do? Sues the board?
  • I am Goh staying at First floor of a five storey Apartment, and there is a leaking ventilation pipe runs from the top of the to bottom ground floor, and there's no attachment branch pipe that branches out to any of the floors, The leaking of water of this pipe from the roof connects to the horizontal 6" drainage pipe just below first floor where I am staying and the management says every pipe that is at the bottom of my first floor is under my responsibility, but this pipe does not branches out to any floor , not even to my floor, it runs directly from the top of the roof directly joint to the main horizontal pipe located at bottom of first floor,please advised whose responsibility the management or the owner of first floor. Tq
  • The water for my building was turned off. Upon turning the water back on, the debris in the older galvanized pipes(50 years) clogged my sink faucet. This is more than debris clogging the screen/filter. Faucet has to be removed/replaced. It has been two weeks and no response from manager. If I sue, can I win?
  • I am on first floor and floor is cold. None insulation in crawl space. HOA is responsible for insulation on my floor or crawl space ceiling?
  • I’m new too the condo life I have a few leaks that i feel the previous owner didn’t reveal ? How can I resolve this can the previous owner be held accountable ? Thank you
  • Our Association is self-managed with 12 units Owner installed dishwasher without any written request or approval from Board. The Board told her that we believed this was a violation. Since all 12 units share one water tank and one water meter. Water bill is included and paid with monthly assessments. Water bill is the highest utility bill that the Association pays. Our by-laws were written in the 70's and laws change. The defense here is that dishwasher uses less water than doing dishes by hand. -- Would appreciate advice.
  • We live in a 200 unit condo. The building changes the filters for the convectors 2x a year. My building decided not to change the filters for over a year due to Covid. Now if we turn m on heat, mold pours out into our air. We asked the building to please clean out the convectors so we can use the heat. They said NO due to Covid. They are willing to only change the filters. What can I do legally?