What is a condo association’s obligations for repair to the interior of a unit that was caused by an outside source?

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What is a condo association’s obligations for repair to the interior of a unit that was caused by an outside source?

A defect developed in a section of my condo’s new laminate flooring that turned out to be the result of termites. My ins. agent said that since the invasion came from the outside the HOA bore responsibility. I s/w HOA Management who said they would have an exterminator take care of the infestation but I would have to fix my floor. The extent of the damage has not been assessed yet and it could very well be extensivebeing they surfaced smack in the middle of the floor. Please assume standard By-Laws and constitution.

Asked on April 3, 2019 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

They are liable for the floor repairs IF they were at fault in the infestation: for example, you can show that they failed to treat the condos for termites they way they reasonably should be treated or to conduct the normal, recommended number and types of exterminations which buildings like this should regularly do, or that they ignored evidence of an infestation and failed to take steps to mitigate or eliminate it, and so allowed the problem to fester and develop. In these cases, since their unreasonable inaction caused your damage or loss, they are liable, and you could sue them if they will not pay.
But if they did those things a building like this would be normally and reasonably do to avoid termite damage, they are not liable. Liability for damage to the interior of the unit is not based on where the condition originated (e.g. outside) but is only based on fault--on not taking the normal and reasonable preventive steps.


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