Liability for maintaining plumbing and for subsequent water damage is driven by the specifics of the situation. Are the units condominiums? Is the plumbing part of the common area, exclusive-use common area or unit improvements? Was there any negligence by the association or the owner? Do the governing documents assign maintenance responsibilities that override ownership? What policies have been adopted and what are the association's past practices?
HOA's Duties. Unless the governing documents provide otherwise, the association is responsible for repairing, replacing or maintaining the common area plumbing, and owners are responsible for maintaining their separate interests and any exclusive use common areas appurtenant to their separate interests. (Civ. Code §4775(a).)
Owner's Duties. Unless governing documents state otherwise, the plumbing lines and fixtures are normally the responsibility of unit owners to maintain:
- kitchen sink, faucet, garbage disposal, drain, supply lines and angle stops
- appliances such as dishwasher and refrigerator
- bathroom sinks, faucets, drains, supply lines and angle stops
- tubs and shower enclosures, faucets, valves, shower pans, drains & drain lines (until they connect to a main line)
- toilets, tank mechanisms, wax ring, supply lines and angle stops
- water lines in walls that serve only the unit
- drain lines in walls that serve only the unit
- water heaters that serve a single unit
Written Policies. So as to minimize litigation, boards should develop written policies for such maintenance which are compatible with the association's governing documents. The policies should then be published to the membership and made part of the rules and regulations of the association.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.