In condominium projects and planned developments, maintenance obligations are not necessarily determined by ownership. In other words, the fact that an element or area is individually owned does not necessarily mean that it is individually maintained. To determine whether an element or area is individually maintained, begin by reading the sections of the governing documents that specifically discuss maintenance obligations. The maintenance sections may or may not refer to the ownership sections (such as the definition of the condominium unit). If responsibility for the element or area is not clear, attempt to determine the author’s intent by analogy to similar elements or areas that are mentioned in the documents. If the documents provide no clues as to the authors intended allocation of responsibility, determine ownership of the element or area and allocate responsibility based on ownership.
In most condominium projects, individual owners are obligated to maintain the following elements of the property:
- Everything included within the definition of the unit as explained under the heading “What portions of a condominium are individually owned?” above;
- The glass, screens, moving frame, and hardware of windows (even if they do not fall within the definition of the unit);
- All doors, door frames, and door hardware (even if they do not fall within the definition of the unit); and
- The finished wall surfaces of storage spaces assigned as limited common elements.
Where exterior areas such as decks, patios or yards are included as part of a condominium unit or assigned as limited common elements, individual maintenance obligations vary widely, and no generalizations are possible.
In most planned developments, individual owners are obligated to maintain the following elements of the property:
- All interior elements and areas of the homes;
- All portions of the plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems serving the homes;
- All foundations and structural elements of the homes (but not roofing and siding);
- All glass, screens, moving frame, and hardware of windows; and
- All doors, door frames, and door hardware; and
- All patios and decks.
As discussed below, owner maintenance obligations change when an element or area is damaged by negligence, or as a consequence of the malfunction of an element the owner is not responsible to maintain.