Building Maintenance and Repair Whose Responsibility Are They?

The increase in the number of co-ops and condos in New York City has changed the way many New Yorkers live. Renters who have purchased a co-op apartment have become owners of stock while condo owners posses a block and lot. The traditional landlord-tenant relationship enjoyed by these former renters has been replaced by other relationships that are quite different and sometimes confusing. In co-ops, the tenants are owners of their own landlords; while, in condos, the tenants are landowners of their individual units and they acquire an undivided interest in the common elements of the condo.

These new relationships are sometimes at odds with health and safety laws that were originally aimed at correcting imbalancesperceived or realin the normal landlord-tenant relationship. As a result, shareholders and boards of directors of co-ops as well as unit owners and boards of managers of condos will often hear the question: Whose responsibility is this, anyway? especially when maintenance or repair issues come up.

General Obligation Rules

The mutual obligations between shareholders and the co-op are governed by the co-op's proprietary lease, house rules and by-laws. Under most proprietary leases, the co-op is responsible for structural repairs to the building and repairs to the common elements of the co-opall parts of the building that are not inside the individual shareholders' apartmentsand repairs to the interior of shareholders' apartments, if the damage has been caused by the co-op's negligence. If the co-op makes repairs for which the shareholder is responsible, the co-op is entitled, under most proprietary leases, to charge the shareholder for the cost of those repairs.

In condos, the repair obligations are set forth in the governing documents such as the declaration establishing the condo, the by-laws of the condo and the individual unit deed. Under the Multiple Dwelling Law (within New York City) and the Multiple Residence Law (outside New York City), each unit owner is deemed to be the person in control of his or her apartment, while the condo's board of managers is deemed to be the person in control of the common elements of the condo for purposes of enforcing those laws or codes.

In condos, unit owners are responsible for complying with regulations regarding window guards, smoke detectors, asbestos removal and lead paint abatement inside the unit, while the board of managers is responsible for repairs and other health and safety laws in the common elements. Windows, however, are generally considered part of the common elements; and, therefore, are the responsibility of the board of managers.


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  • When owning a condo; which party is responsible for plumping/pipe repairs outside the unit but connecting to one's bathroom. Town responsibility?
  • during pipe replacement in our condo, access to pipes was done thorough each bathroom, instead of common area flat walls, resulting in damage to 68 bathrooms, which in the end were poorly restored.
  • Is the co-op responsible for window replacement?
  • In a condo, the upstairs unit's sewage pipe & cold water pipe were leaked & cause the flood to the downstairs unit. Who is responsible for the repairs, the upstairs owner or downstairs owner?
  • An adjustor for my homeowners ins deemed water damage in my ground floor coop to be foudation leakage- the co op disputes this saying the water came in through air conditioning unit (this after inspection by super and managing agent) . Is there an way I can force them to at least send in a rep from coops ins?
  • in a co op in westchester county ny are the steam pipes in the units considered common elements or are they the individual owners responsibility
  • The directors decided that the porches would not be included in their maintenance. Most of them have been enclosed into rooms, but mine has not. When I bought it, everything on the outside was supposed to be included. They do the stairs, but the condos int he other building have a lot of outside stairs, and I only have one. He asked us to sign that this had changed and we knew it. I did not sign.
  • @Mary Lou: The responsibilities of the Shareholder v. Corporation will be in the Prop Lease for the cooperative. I've never seen an Offering Plan and Prop Lease that doesn't say that the building is responsible for window repairs. I can think of too many reasons why the building would want control over this (aesthetics, quality, build. heat control, liability, etc.) Check your building docs for the sure answer.
  • If the co-op is responsible for replacing a boiler to the entire building, are they also responsible for insuring that the steam pipes and asbestos coverings are in good repair in each unit? Is it the responsibility of the resident (Lessee) to pay for asbestos removal and abatement or the Co-op community at-large if required in Indiana?
  • My co op ( A Mitchell Lama Building) received water damage after a terrible storm . The water came in threw the walls. Who is responsible for the water damage to my carpet and if its the building how long do they have to fix it. The building manager has been out sick ever sence this has happened and I can not get any answers from anyone. The only person to come and inspect was the super and he said do not remove the carpet. It has been 3 days and the carpet is starting to get smelly and molding.
  • a pipe broke in my bathroom wall. I am told that since a renovation was made to the bathroom since it was built 1921 . I'm responsible .
  • how we could improve company <a maintenance management without get any losses?
  • What a lot of people fail to remember in any of these instances is that it is still your money paying for these types of repairs regardless if the association dishes it out or you have to. Most of the time if there are large losses and the association has to cover the repairs you might get hit with an assessment or an increase in your maintenance costs. The key to a healthy association is owners that do not push for everything to be covered. There are a lot of grey areas in association governing documents.
  • My aunt owns a condo. The condo on top of hers had a plumbing problem that was leaking to her bathroom. they open a hole in her wall to see the condition of her pipes. They were rusty and with leaks. Is the building association responsible for this repair or is she?
  • The upstairs bathroom leaked into the bathroom of our ground floor NYC coop during renovation. We had not yet moved in. The person working on the floor discovered the leak and tells us that there was water on the newly installed wood floor outside the bathroom when he arrived. After a couple of weeks the new wood floor buckled. The super, his helper and the managing agent were in the building and came to the apartment. They were angry at the time that the worker had not notified them sooner. Now they claim that the damage is not due to water, but to faulty installation. There is no basement under the floor. The flooring sits on joists that sit on crushed rock. However, the only place that the floor is buckled is outside the bathrom and not in other areas with the same condition beneath.
  • who needs pay window guard in a coop apartment. landlord or tenants?
  • EMS had to break my aunt's co-op door to get to her. The door is badly damaged. Who is responsible for replacing the door? Is it her's or the co-op building?
  • Concerned shareholder in NYC. Since the beginning of 2011, we have been subject to an especially tough winter. Our building experienced a number of violent storms with extremely high winds, which are exacerbated due to the direct exposure to the Hudson River and we are billed for the replacement of the fiberglass panels separating the terraces between two apartments. Due to these conditions, the separation on our terrace was eventually blown out over the course of several of the aforementioned storms. The panels in question were replaced without any prior notice and without being consulted on the issue.  We need advise on how to proceed and what coop law are we covered under.
  • We are a coop owner. We have notified the Management to repair a leak on the ceiling in the stairway a month ago. Nothing has been done, where else can we file a complain to get them repair the ceiling?
  • Please advise on a situation where a non owner of a coop has a back door to her courtyard that is non-functional and the paint has almost totally peeled off. The Super has offered to replace her door, but she refuses. Is there a responsibility for the sponsor to maintain the back door functioning and facade appearance of the door as it is a real eyesore for the rest of the owners? The sponsors have a history of very bad cooparation with the Board of the Coop. Thank you for any advice.
  • I want to rent out my coop and was told I had to get a lead paint assessment. Well having lived in my apartment fo 10 years I now find I have lead paint on certain walls. The coop management says I have to deal with this before I can rent out m apartment. Who is liable for the lead paint on the walls which was before i bought the place? Thanks for any advice?
  • We live on the second floor of a coop in NYC and have had scaffolding go up for extended periods of time over the last 20 years we have lived here. It impacts us greatly, and in this case it is going back up for 6+ months to redo a botched job on the facade. Do we have any recourse in terms of a relief in maintenance during the work? Being on the second floor means we, and ONLY US on the second floor are impacted DAILY by the WORKERS, THE COMING AND GOING, THE DEBRIS and THE LOSS OF VIEW. We have had scaffolding for probably a total of 41/2 of the 20 years we have been here. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Is there any recourse? Please advise. THANK YOU
  • Mark B. Levine, RAM ( on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 3:47 PM
    @Wendy, the issues within the apartment are typically attributed to the apartment and not the current Shareholder. Meaning, that if you have lead paint on the walls, it is up to the current shareholder to rectify the condition, and it doesn't matter if you occupied the space during the time that the condition originally came into play. The assumption is made that due diligence is taken at the time of your purchase and that you bought the apartment as-is, problems included. Just make sure that you use a lead-safe certified firm, as required by the EPA. The management company that you have in your building can probably recommend someone if you don't have a painter that has the proper certifications.
  • I have 2 lose beams in my coop on the first floor in my living room. Who is responsible? When i had a contractor with insurance pu in tiles in the bathroom and kitchen the beams moved a year later. Who is responsible? They never inspected the four family building since they build it in 1957. What can I do?
  • my floors were damaged due to water coming in as the window installers forget to seal the outside of my terrace windows; coop refuses to pay saying that since I renovated they're not responsible; also my maintenance has gone up about 35% inthe 10 yrs. that I've lived there to a point where it's almost impossible to sell.
  • When I turn on the kitchen faucet at my condo apt located on 20th Fl. to wash dishes, the shower in the master bedroom begins flooding. The water comes through the shower drain and floods the shower. The shower in the master bedroom is unusable. Who is responsible for this? Building maintenance ?
  • Who is responsible for the a/c maintenance in my New York City co op.
  • the radiator pipe in my unit rusted out and starter leaking. causing my hard wood floor mold and discoloration. who is responsible for the repairs?
  • I cannot find a local contractor to do dryer vent cleaning in my condo unit on a weekend, having called multiple times to various contractors. They now want to fine me $125 a month. 1) Are they allowed to fine me when I have called local contractors who are not available on weekends or do not answer my call? I live in another state now--60 miles away, but still own the property in CT. 2) Are they allowed to fine me when they have a contractor for this who will not call me back to schedule an appointment. I have been calling him for months--finally had an appointment, only to be canceled 2 hours before the cleaning. I even offered to the community to schedule the appointment for me, but got no reply. Thank you, Anne
  • I live in a condo in MI. The Association hit us with a $1300.00 extra assessment fee to cover new pipes/plumbing throughout the complex. Must I pay this or is it ok if I used my own licensed plumber to do my pipes/plumbing?
  • had blocked toilet pipe it was determined block of wood was dropped down pipe on roof it three days for necessary repairs resulting in missing three days of work and without full use of my bathroom am i entitled to compensation from landlord
  • Is managment responsible for windows repairs? I have dust and water inside 2 layers of glass.
  • do shareholders have a right to inspect the common areas of the ?...... Particularly which affrects their peace and comfort and who is responsible for the mechanical bathroom/kitchen vents that are malfuntioning. and creatind dust/noise
  • who is responsible for the windows that are chipping away from water penetratons. tks
  • My downstairs neighbor's engineer discovered the floor to my bathroom was not up to code when renovated before I purchased my share. The Board is saying the costs are my sole responsibility since I purchased 'as is' not the boards however it is structural. Did they not follow protocol when permitting the repairs, and therefore is the building responsible?
  • Living in a condo with a club that has membership dues. However, access to the Club is through an elevator which has broken down many times. Does the Board of Directors have a responsibility to fix and/or replace same as it is a handicap accessible elevator? Do we have a right to remand a daily refund for non-usage?
  • I live in a Mitchell Lama Co-op and for the past year, noisy neighbors moved in, 4 children and two adults in a two-bedroom which is a violation of occupancy limits (4 max).they did not list children in their Addifavit, so another violation. They are extremely noisy all day and night, make loud banging/thumping noises way past 10 pm and someone stays up all night making noises around the apt., the kids run, jump, hollar, scream, drop heavy loud items, No Peace and Quiet whatsoever. I hear everything and management said they cannot do anything about noise. I've complained to Managment multiple times, 311, Bx Borough President, Police Sargent Precinct, Nobody has done anything. It is the responsibilityu of the co-op to enforce the rules and regulations as they list in their rules. So they are in violation of my peace and quiet (warranty of habitability). I have no help from anyone and i don't know what to do.
  • In Westchester County Ny regarding a Co-Op. the is a problem with mice in this co-op in westchester county ny. the ShareHolder contacted the super and the super said they would send a pest company to elvatuate the situation. Then with out the pest company after several days/weeks contacted the super again at that point the super came in to the unit and said the closet in the unit which is below the 2nd floor unit in the garden apartment which is directly below the share holder aboves stair case needed to be corked? and it was the 1st floor units responsiblty? #1- Isnt that structual? #2 if it isnt then it should be the 2nd floor units responsiblty to take care of it since it is her stair case? Pleas advise as if in this case its 1st floor unit or 2 nd floor unit or Co-Op respinsiblty?
  • A sump pump is working on manual only for 8 yrs it was working fine on auto we call roto rooter bcause building would not get us a plumber when our outside patio drain pooled everytime it rained and left us without use of our downstairs bathroom we pay maintennance every month and here nothing from the mgmt or condo how do we get this sump pump issue resolved it is in the mechanical room of the condo not in our apartment
  • I own a co-op unit in Queens New York. The shareholder above has a bathroom situation which has caused water to leak into my unit down below and has compromised the habitability of the bathroom in my apartment. We thought initially that the unit above had behind the wall issues which would have been the building's responsibility but it has been determined in fact that it's loose tiles in the bathroom on the third floor which is impacting my unit on the second floor. The responsibility of repair is the shareholder on the third-floor apartment to make repairs to his tile so that water does not travel down into the second floor of my apartment unit. The building manager is not taking the necessary actions to enforce that the tenant on the third floor make the necessary repairs. The shareholder on the floor is not being cooperative to make the necessary Repairs by letting people in to inspect, to determine what course of action needs to be taken.
  • We've been married for 16 years, living in our co-op apt. For MOST of those years, till the present, "the building" has been entering our apt. when we were not home without notifying us. We find our personal papers have been rummaged through, furniture moved, things broken, things we were trying to organize torn apart, causing us not to trust EACH OTHER. We argued about it, and it almost resulted in a divorce. We finally became wise to this buildings unethical practices.Over the past few years, it has been evident TO BOTH OF US that our home is still being invaded on a regular basis, even though two years ago, we installed an alarm system, and this year, changed our locks. Over the years, both my wife and I have been individually stalked by the same few individuals from this address. My wife has developed panic attacks, high blood pressure, and a dangerously high pulse when she has to leave the apt. She is over 65 now, and she has had such anxiety over this situation, she cancels most doctor appointments, and has postponed surgeries. Management listened, but just told us to buy more cameras. The super told us, with a smug smile: "If anything was STOLEN, call the police." We do not wish to move. How do we put a stop to this, or get an answer to WHY this has, and is, happening to us?
  • I live in a garden style coop. When I moved in there was no radiator in the bathroom. During the walk through before the moving in, they never mentioned about it. Now now I’m planning sell they want me to add the radiator to the bathroom. Isn’t this their responsibility. I purchased the unit without the radiator why do I need to add it.