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Subject: Is HOA responsible for the damage?
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ZhuoY1
(Iowa)

Posts:8


06/05/2019 1:39 PM  
My air conditioner was broken. The AC repair contractor said that it was ruined by pets urine and need to be replaced. My unit is on the 2nd floor. The AC is put on a common area near the complex.

I informed HOA of the damage. HOA stated that it's our responsibility to maintain the AC.

I talked to an experienced investment agent who also has several rental properties. He said, owner is responsible for the maintenance of AC, like normal wear, but NOT responsible for the damage caused by pets urine. The AC is located on a common area, HOA is responsible the maintenance of common areas and is responsible for any damages because they failed to do so. He also said the liability insurance that HOA carries should cover this kind of damages.

Then HOA said, they are not responsible for any damage of any personal property or exclusive use property caused by another owner, owner's tenant or their guests. The thing is, our AC is located in a common area, so we can hardly find any evidence that a particular owner/tenant should be responsible. It's possible that our downstairs neighbor's dog is responsible, but one cannot rule out the possibility that other dogs in the community had also urinated on our AC. Dogs from outside the community may also did it, as this is not a gated community. The only thing we know is, they failed to maintain the common area and pets had been urinating on it a lot (there are many dog urine spots). So it should be their responsibility.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with HOA?
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:81


06/05/2019 2:37 PM  
Exactly how did they fail to maintain the common area?
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:121


06/05/2019 3:12 PM  
Why start a new thread? You'll get the same answers in this one.
ZhuoY1
(Iowa)

Posts:8


06/05/2019 6:21 PM  
Posted By BobB31 on 06/05/2019 3:12 PM
Why start a new thread? You'll get the same answers in this one.




The old thread was about how to protect my AC from future damage by pets urine. This thread is about whether HOA is liable of the damage of my AC.
Why shall I get the same answers?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8396


06/05/2019 6:27 PM  
Why would the HOA be responsible for your A/C? When you ask your HOA to pay for something, it means ALL the members are paying for it. How would you react to find out a neighbor wanted the HOA to pay for the urine damaged A/C unit?

Former HOA President
ZhuoY1
(Iowa)

Posts:8


06/05/2019 6:33 PM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 06/05/2019 2:37 PM
Exactly how did they fail to maintain the common area?



The bylaws prohibits pets urinating in these common areas. But pets had been doing so for a while, as one can see from the damage of my AC or the urine spots on lawn. But HOA didn’t take any actions to stop the violation of bylaws. They didn’t talk to pets owner or do anything to protect ACs. They even didn’t allow me to put any kind of fence to protect my AC. As a result, my AC’s condenser was ruined.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16411


06/05/2019 6:35 PM  
Are they responsible? In my opinion, not this time.

Request to put a fence around the unit to keep this from happening.
If the HOA refuses, ask for alternative options (shrubs, etc.).
If the HOA refuses, ask if they are willing to be responsible for damage to the unit from pet urine since they are refusing all reasonable accommodations to prevent the issue from being repeated?

If the HOA says no, consult with an attorney.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3123


06/05/2019 6:45 PM  
Wasnt' there a thread very recently that asked the same question?
ZhuoY1
(Iowa)

Posts:8


06/05/2019 6:58 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 06/05/2019 6:35 PM
Are they responsible? In my opinion, not this time.

Request to put a fence around the unit to keep this from happening.
If the HOA refuses, ask for alternative options (shrubs, etc.).
If the HOA refuses, ask if they are willing to be responsible for damage to the unit from pet urine since they are refusing all reasonable accommodations to prevent the issue from being repeated?

If the HOA says no, consult with an attorney.




Yes, I had requested to put a fence and they refused. They said any kind of barriers are prohibited. They didn’t provide any alternative options for me to protect my AC. That’s part of reason why I think they are liable for the damage.
ZhuoY1
(Iowa)

Posts:8


06/05/2019 7:50 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 06/05/2019 6:27 PM
Why would the HOA be responsible for your A/C? When you ask your HOA to pay for something, it means ALL the members are paying for it. How would you react to find out a neighbor wanted the HOA to pay for the urine damaged A/C unit?



If same thing happened to my neighbor, I am willing to pay for it, because I know everyone’s AC can be the target if HOA doesn’t do anything to prevent this kind of damage. Nor do they allow owners to do anything to prevent it. We are not allowed to put fence or any barriers to protect AC.
How would you react if same thing happened to you? Replace the AC and wait for the next time it is ruined again? As a former HOA president, your suggestions are highly appreciated!
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16411


06/06/2019 1:40 AM  
Posted By ZhuoY1 on 06/05/2019 6:58 PM
Posted By TimB4 on 06/05/2019 6:35 PM
Are they responsible? In my opinion, not this time.

Request to put a fence around the unit to keep this from happening.
If the HOA refuses, ask for alternative options (shrubs, etc.).
If the HOA refuses, ask if they are willing to be responsible for damage to the unit from pet urine since they are refusing all reasonable accommodations to prevent the issue from being repeated?

If the HOA says no, consult with an attorney.




Yes, I had requested to put a fence and they refused. They said any kind of barriers are prohibited. They didn’t provide any alternative options for me to protect my AC. That’s part of reason why I think they are liable for the damage.





OK. Lets say everyone here agrees with you and they should pay for the damage.
It might make you feel better, but it doesn't change the reality of the situation.
Your HOA has said no.

Your options are:

Live with it.
Consult with an attorney to see what legal options you have in the courts.
Complain to others who have zero authority or power to change anything.


Those are my opinions. I'm also a former President, former Treasurer, former Secretary, former Maintenance Officer and former Architectural committee member (if that makes a difference - and it shouldn't).
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:81


06/06/2019 4:04 AM  
Since you said this thread is limited solely to liability my answer would be NO the HOA is not responsible. Your argument is that your AC unit was damaged on a common area and therefore the HOA is responsible. Suppose you went to the community pool and parked your car in the pool parking lot which is a common area. While you were swimming someone took a key and scratched the side of your car from bumper to bumper. Would you go after the HOA for damages since the car was parked in a common area?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8396


06/06/2019 4:46 AM  
I would say HOA not responsible. Exactly for the reasons you state they are. No one can control dogs/cats urinating. They do that. It just happens to be on your unit. So show the HOA the pictures of your damage for the reason you want to set up something to protect it once replaced. That should help with getting the approval you seek.

Former HOA President
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:338


06/06/2019 6:18 AM  
The OP should look in their governing documents and check the definition of "Unit" as well as any section that discusses Unit Owner Responsibility. My community's Declaration defines heating/AC units as part of the Unit and also states explicitly that the Unit Owner is responsible for repairs and upkeep of the outdoor compressor. It sounds like the OP's situation is the same, which I believe is typical of many condos.

The most that the association can do in such situations is to deal with any violations such as owners allowing their pets to run free on the common areas. In such case the owner of the AC unit would need to provide reasonable evidence of the violation such as photos or videos of the animal off its leash. If he/she has done so and the association has not taken action against the offending pet owner(s), then the OP would have some grounds to hold the association responsible. (However, the OP would likely be unaware of any such action being taken since in many states such enforcement activity is confidential, and the fact that a violation continues is NOT proof that the association isn't dealing with it.)

The AC owner is also free to take legal action against the neighbor(s) who allow their pets to damage others' property, but again he/she needs solid evidence of the offending behavior.
ND
(PA)

Posts:330


06/06/2019 9:00 AM  
Look around your complex to see what others may have done around their AC units . . .

If others in your neighborhood have installed fences and have landscaping around their units, which has existed for some time, then there is precedence set that these things are ok even if you are being told "no" right now. If others have similar things and it has been allowed to go on for a long time, then it's very difficult for the Board to deny your ability to have the same.

So another option (for which there may be consequences by way of violation letters, fines, and the possible undoing of what you do) is to do something without receiving approval . . . even though not approved, install a small fence anyway (there are cheaper ones that you can just stake into the ground) or plant some bushes.

You're doing the right thing by trying to go through the process to get approval; however, the Board says you are financially responsible for something w/in a common area that is being destroyed by neighbors who nobody can control and you are being prevented by that same Board from reasonably protecting your investment.
TimM11


Posts:287


06/07/2019 8:25 AM  
Maybe you already addressed this in the other thread, but have you talked to your insurance company about it? They may be able to help you out here if they think the HOA's actions (or lack thereof) are contributing to this.
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