Condominium Owners’ Health And Safety Rights
Condominiums have become increasingly popular in recent years. They strike a balance between efficient living space, community governance and individual ownership.
However, condominium ownership is a distinct legal concept that differs in many ways from home ownership. As a condominium unit owner, you are generally responsible for the interior of your unit. The condominium association is generally responsible for maintenance and improvements to common areas and building exteriors. Where and when a unit owner’s responsibilities end and the condominium association’s repair and maintenance obligations begin requires a careful reading of the association bylaws and the unit as master deeds as well as applicable unit owners and association insurance policies.
Common Problems That Condo Owners Encounter
As a condo owner, it is important to understand your rights, particularly with regard to matters affecting your health and safety. Condominium units are not immune from the hazards that commonly affect other types of housing. For example, you may encounter exposure to:
- Lead paint: Massachusetts has complex laws about dealing with lead paint. Individual unit owners are generally responsible for abating lead paint in their own units. Sellers are responsible for disclosing the presence of lead paint.
- Toxic mold: Moisture, water damage and humidity can lead to the growth of dangerous toxic molds in condo buildings, potentially leading to significant health problems and remediation expense. Unit owners are generally responsible for dealing with mold hazards unless the water intrusion stems from a common area. Depending on the language in the deed, some common areas may actually be within condominium units. Some areas are designated as “limited” common areas, further complicating the question of who between the unit owner and the association is responsible for maintaining and remediating mold.
- Spray polyurethane foam insulation: A relatively new product, SPF insulation has been associated with ill health effects and chemical sensitization, sometimes making it difficult to continue living in the unit. You may have a legal claim relating to the use or installation of SPF.
- Repairs: Condominium associations are responsible for maintaining the common areas in a clean, safe condition. Their failure to conduct timely repairs can lead to safety hazards.
- Structural issues: Condo associations are also generally responsible for the structural integrity of the units.
The thread that runs through each of these issues is the question of who is responsible for mitigating the harm — you as the unit owner or the condominium association? The answer depends on the circumstances as well as the application of the law and governing contractual provisions. In some situations, complex housing insurance issues may also arise.
Experienced Attorneys For Condo Owners | Contact Us For A Free Consultation
Are you a condo owner confronting housing-relating hazards? At The Law Offices of John S. Wessler, our lawyers are dedicated to protecting the health, safety and rights of condo owners. With more than 60 years of combined experience in the area of health and housing, we understand how to navigate the legal intricacies impacting condo owners.
To learn more, contact us at 978-689-3806. We offer free initial phone consultations. Located in South Lawrence, Massachusetts, our attorneys handle housing and toxic tort cases throughout the state