Imagine getting an angry phone call from an unhappy resident stating that they just returned from a weekend trip to discover an awful mess in their condo. Somewhere in the strata drainage system, a blockage caused their sink to back up, damaging their hardwood floors.
You start to sweat—is this your responsibility to cover or the residents?
Who Takes Responsibility for Condo Plumbing Repairs?
According to the Condominium Property Act (CPA), the condo corporation has a general duty to repair and maintain its real, personal, common and managed property. Common property is anything in a condominium complex not contained within the boundaries of a condominium unit. All owners jointly own common property.
Therefore, unless your bylaws say otherwise, the condo corporation is generally not responsible for repairs within condominium units.
Owners are responsible for repairing and maintaining anything within their condominium units, such as the hardwood floors and finishings. When it comes to plumbing, the pipes inside and around individual units are the resident’s responsibility.
In contrast, the pipes positioned around public areas are the responsibility of the condo manager/condo association.
Check out this article to better understand your condo’s drainage and which pipes in your building are positioned within individual units vs. those in public areas.
Clear Communication With Your Residents is Key
From personal experience, you may know that here’s where things can get tricky between you and your residents. If all the stuff inside the unit boundaries isn’t Common Property, does that mean the residents are responsible for all maintenance costs?
Most people buy condos to have carefree living. They want certainty. A condo fee is levied and is expected to cover the major repairs and maintenance of the property. No mowing the lawns or shovelling the snow either!
To avoid these misunderstandings between you and your residents, the best thing you can do is ensure everyone has a solid understanding of your condominium’s bylaws and governing documents, which contain all the specifics of repair responsibility. Before an interested party buys a unit in your building, encourage them to read the declaration in its entirety and make sure they understand it.
Documents aside, all shareholders or unit owners should also carry adequate insurance coverage. This is another important way to ensure that gaps are closed and conflicts between condo associations and unit owners are avoided.
Avoiding Condo Plumbing Maintenance and Repair Conflict With Your Residents
To avoid conflict and prevent either party from the cost of hiring a professional plumber, here are some plumbing maintenance strategies to help mitigate plumbing issues.
Some of these are your responsibility as the condo manager or condo association, and others will depend on your ability to educate your residents and ensure they are doing their due diligence to maintain the integrity of your condo plumbing.
Recommend That Residents Use Drain Screens
As part of educating your residents on their repair responsibilities regarding their condo unit’s plumbing, you can suggest they use drain screens in their sinks, tubs and showers. Or better yet, make the investment and place drain screens in all of your building units.
Drain screens may not prevent all debris from entering the drain, but they will significantly reduce it. It is a simple and relatively inexpensive step that saves you a lot of money on plumbing maintenance in the long run.
Fix Leaks in Water Appliances
Poor maintenance of dishwashers and washing machines is one of the leading causes of leaks within condo buildings. If residents have their own appliances within their units (as opposed to shared laundry units)—communicate with them that they should regularly check the plumbing connection to the machines and the drain hose. If they spot any moisture on the floor surrounding the appliances, they need to contact a plumber immediately.
Inspect Hot Water Tanks for Rust
As the manager, this is your responsibility! When your hot water equipment begins to rust, you risk not only reducing the quality of water entering your property but also shortening the life of the heater.
To prevent this, condo managers should be proactive about inspecting the hot water heaters every year for signs of leakage or rust within the system. This is also a good time to flush the hot water system to get rid of accumulated sediment.
Schedule Regular Stack Cleaning
Have your drains professionally flushed every 1-3 years, depending on their age, condition and resident usage. A stack cleaning company will clean out any build-up within your sewer lines.
Paired with your resident education, regularly clearing your drains will help you avoid potential back-ups, insurance losses and costly repairs.
If they haven’t been done within the last three years or your residents are experiencing backups/slow drains, contact us at GoJaxon to book your free consultation.
We’ll assess your stacks and prepare a quote for you.
Educate, Communicate and Take Preventative Measures
The plumbing systems for condos are more complicated than those of standalone homes and businesses because the pipework is designated as tenant and public-owned. Like the example we made earlier of the clogged drain and ruined hardwood floors, it’s common to get into hot water with your residents when there is a plumbing problem, and they expect you to foot the bill.
The best thing you can do to maintain clear communication and positive relationships with the residents is to ensure they have read and understand your building’s bylaws and know what repairs they are responsible for.
It’s also important to communicate that your residents should have comprehensive insurance coverage in a plumbing crisis and educate them on best practices to avoid expensive plumbing repair costs!
Think your building might need its stacks cleaned?