From leaky plumbing to storm damage, water can cause serious destruction to the interior and exterior of a condominium. While a burst pipe or broken water heater may be hard to miss, even a slow leak hidden away behind walls or beneath a foundation may lead to structural damage, with little evidence except the buildup of mildew, mold and efflorescence, a powdery white crust of salt that may develop when water permeates a porous material like brick or stucco. 

In condominiums, where unit owners share many structural elements, figuring out who is responsible for repairs can be confusing and frustrating. According to the Florida Condominium Act, determining responsibility will depend on whether the damage occurred due to an event that the association’s property insurance covers and which parts of the building need restoration. 

When might the condominium association cover repair costs? 

The Condominium Act requires all condo associations to maintain and repair structural, mechanical, plumbing and electrical elements shared between multiple units, including the building’s roofing and exterior walls. The act also requires condo associations to carry primary coverage for damage to these common elements. When water damage occurs due to an event that the association’s insurance covers, the association is responsible for reconstruction and repair. 

When might the owner be responsible for expenses? 

While the association’s property insurance must cover elements shared between units, it does not cover items exclusive to the unit itself. This includes personal property as well as a wide range of interior items, including: 

  • Electrical fixtures 
  • Floor, ceiling and wall coverings 
  • Built-in cabinets and countertops 
  • Appliances 
  • Window treatments 

Condo associations usually require individual owners to carry their own insurance coverage for the interior of the unit. The unit owner may also be responsible for repairs if the damage did not occur due to an insurable event, such as a flood, hurricane or fire, or occurred due to negligence or an intentional act. In this case, the association’s bylaws will determine restoration responsibility.