Many individuals and families in Chicago choose condo life because of the benefits of living in a community with a homeowners association. One of the main perks is knowing that a portion of the upkeep will be taken care of by the HOA. But what portion exactly? Understanding what your responsibility is as a condo owner when it comes to maintenance and what will be covered by your HOA is important and will make your life easier.
What are your responsibilities as a condo owner?
It’s best to check your Association’s governing documents to confirm, but as a general rule of thumb, everything inward from your interior walls, floors, and ceilings is your responsibility to maintain. Apart from this, think of yourself as a partner to all the other owners in the association regarding the upkeep of the exterior structure, common areas, and amenities. While you’re not directly responsible for maintaining these because your HOA is, keeping them in top condition is a common interest, this is why all owners need to pay HOA fees.
Simply put, the association is responsible for the exterior upkeep of the building and its grounds, while individual owners need to take care of the interior of their condo. Additionally, some condo owners may also be responsible for something called limited common elements. Let’s take a closer look.
The HOA is Responsible for:
Again, pending your Association’s governing documents, HOA’s are generally responsible for:
All Common Elements
The HOA needs to maintain, repair, and replace all physical assets designated as common elements in the governing documents whether located inside or outside the units. These include gas, sewer, water, telecommunication and electrical systems from their source to the entry point into your condo unit. Meaning all portions of the condominium other than the units, such as portions of the walls, floor, and ceilings or attic, as well as common areas is the HOA’s responsibility.
You can assume your HOA will maintain or repair:
- The structure of the condo
- Trails, walkways, and sidewalks (this should include snow removal where applicable)
- Exterior lighting (flood lighting on homes, parking lot lighting, lighting of trails, and walkways)
- Pools, hot tubs, and other amenities that are shared
- Clubhouses or association office buildings
- The condo roof, including gutters, shingles, and underlayment
- The condo exterior including siding or other exterior treatments
Owners are Responsible For:
Meaning a portion of the condominium designated for separate ownership or occupancy. This is your condo and its walls, floor, ceiling, doors and windows, any wallboard, plaster, paint, tile, wallpaper, etc. Other fixtures and improvements, within the boundaries of a unit, are also part of the unit.
Limited Common Elements
Meaning any air conditioning or heating units, chute, flue, duct, wire, conduit, bearing wall, bearing column, other fixture, whether located within or outside of the boundaries of a condo, which serve only that single unit. Any shutters, awnings, window boxes, doorsteps, stoops, porches, decks, balconies, entryways, patios, exterior doors, and windows, other fixtures designed to serve a single unit, but located outside its boundaries are limited common elements allocated exclusively to that unit and are also a responsibility of the owner. This means that if something serves solely your condo, it will be your responsibility to maintain. If it serves more than one unit, it becomes a common element.
You need to maintain:
- All interior fixtures (lighting, flooring, walls)
- Electrical systems
- Appliances, including washers, dryers, ovens, and microwaves
- Your walls, windows, doors, and floor
If the governing documents of the condominium association are unclear or ambiguous about these definitions, the board of directors need to make them clear to all owners. If you have any questions about building or condo maintenance, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.