The allocation of maintenance responsibilities between the individual owners and the association is usually determined by the governing documents, and varies widely from project to project. A step-by-step procedure for determining responsibility is discussed above under the heading “What portions of the property are individual owners obligated to maintain?”
In most condominium projects, the association is obligated to maintain the following elements of the property:
- All exterior elements including siding and roofing (but not windows and doors);
- All foundations and other structural elements;
- All landscaping, exterior lighting, drives, and walks;
- All interior common areas including lobbies, hallways and stairs (except stairs connecting levels within units);
- All portions of the plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems serving more than one unit or located within the common elements; and
- All fire protection alarms and equipment located within the 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, association maintenance obligations vary widely, and no generalizations are possible.
In most planned developments, the association is obligated to maintain the following elements of the property:
- All common area;
- All exterior surfaces of homes, including roofing, siding, trim, decks, balconies, exterior stairs, railings, window frames, and door frames;
- All fences and exterior, nonstructural walls;
- All landscaping on each lot; and
- All fire protection alarms and equipment except smoke detectors within homes.
As discussed below, association maintenance obligations change when an element or area is damaged by negligence, or because of the malfunction of an element that an owner is responsible to maintain.