Does your condo association have limited common element balconies? Are owners required to maintain them? Does the association and/or the owners understand the waterproofing system and how to maintain the balcony decks so that leaks don't damage the common area and other units? If you answered "yes" to the first two questions and "no", or "I'm not sure" to the last question, read David Swedelson's blog on How One Association's $30,000 Mold Water Damage Claim Turned into a $169,000 Arbitration Award.
David discusses an association where a limited common element balcony deck began leaking into the first floor of a two-floor unit. Owners were responsible for maintaining their balconies. After much investigation, it turns out a former owner modified the deck in such a way as to inhibit proper drainage, and the later owners failed to properly maintain and/or contact the association in a timely manner to investigate. To make matters worse, the association has now discovered other leaking balconies with decks that are suspect.
After investigation, repair of the leak and damage, including mold, the association's bill came to $30,000. That $30,000 bill turned into a $169,000 arbitration award in favor of the association, after some unnecessary and prolonged delays on the part of the owner's insurance defense. Although the award was an excellent result for the association, ultimately the problems discussed in David's blog could have been avoided by a proper understanding of the deck waterproofing system and how to maintain it, regular inspections by waterproofing contractors to ensure proper maintenance, and vigorously monitoring and enforcing the covenant against modification to the balcony decks without association approval. Condominium associations should be proactive when dealing with the waterproofing on common element balcony decks. If owners are responsible for maintaining them, educate owners as to proper maintenance.