Condominium Agreements require the Condominium Association cover certain expenses relating to the units within the community. The details of coverage can vary with each community, but coverage often includes a general obligation to maintain and repair pipes. This is often true when there is an issue with a pipe that serves a number of units or common areas within the community.

This general obligation can be difficult to translate into reality. Take, for example, a situation where a pipe bursts in one condo and the owner is out of town. A recent dispute provides an example. In this dispute, a pipe began to leak within a unit while the owners were away. The pipe in question provided water to 24 other units in the community. The pipe flooded the condo with two inches of water and required extensive repairs. Repairs included removal and replacement of cement, baseboards and drywall.

In addition to these repairs, the association hired a “dry-out” company to remove moisture from the unit. The association covered the majority of the costs, with one notable exception. The association refused to cover the costs connected with the “dry-out” services. The owners received a bill of almost $6,000 for these services.

The owners disputed the association’s stance. The Condominium Agreement generally requires the association cover the costs related to the pipes in this type of dispute, as the pipe in question served a large portion of the community. However, the association countered the agreement did not require coverage of the cost of personal items — which can include carpeting. In this case, the association successfully argued the dry-out services were not covered as they were needed for personal items.

There is a possible catch: if the association knew or should have known the pipe would break it could be liable for a larger portion of costs.