Puerto Rico’s 2003 Condominium Act has established how to proceed in circumstances where the responsibility for maintenance and repairs is unclear. As I mentioned in my prior blog, the Board of Directors is responsible for the insurance and repairs of general common areas in condominiums such as stairs and lobby. All unit holders are responsible for their own insurance coverage, maintenance and repair of the unit’s interior.
When a water leak problem occurs, the owners have a duty to notify the Board of Directors and they should proceed to hire an expert, such as a plumber, to determine the origin of the leak.1
Once the expert has completed his analysis he should then notify the Board and the owner of the origin of the problem. When the origin comes from a general common element, the Board of Directors should repair the common area immediately and notify other unit owners who may suffer from it. On the other hand, if the origin of the problem comes from a private area belonging to the owner, the Board of Directors will not be responsible for the repairs and the owner should notify his insurer or repair it at his own cost.
Article 15 (d): Rules governing use of apartments; violation as ground for civil action.
(d) All owners shall execute, at their own expense, the modifications, repairs, cleaning, security, and improvements of their own apartments, without obstructing the rightful use and enjoyment of others. It shall be the inescapable duty of every owner to perform the repair and security works as soon as necessary, so as not to affect the security and appearance of the building. All owners or occupants of an apartment are legally bound to allow repairs or maintenance works required by the building in their unit, allowing entrance to the apartment for their completion.2
After disasters such as Hurricane Maria, water leaks may be more common and they can cause additional damage to condominiums. Repairs should be made promptly to avoid damage to other units and common areas. It is the owner’s responsibility to inform the Board of Directors on any issue related to water leaks even if the owner has insurance coverage for the damage.
1 Lcdo. Roberto A. Rivera Ruiz, Filtraciones y Responsabilidad, Asociación de Condominios y Controles de Acceso de PR, Retrieved 12/27/2017 (12:09 pm).
2 Puerto Rico 2003 Condominium Act, 31 LPRA §1291m.