Condo Damage – Who Pays?

I own a condo and recently had damage to my garage door and garage door opener. I assumed the condo association would pay for it and they assumed my insurance would cover it. To make a long story short, no one wants to pay for it. Can you give me any advice?

Answer: Having lived in a condo myself, I can sympathize with the frustration of such a situation. There are no quick answers, but I can explain why you are having the difficulties that you are.

In a condominium, you own a share of the entire complex. That share entitles you to the exclusive use of the inside of your unit and the responsibility for maintenance of the inside of the unit. In most cases, you own the inside coverings (wallpaper, paint, carpet), but you don't actually own the walls. You may not even own the carpet. It can be considered a common element; if it is the original covering by the builder and has never been replaced.

Confused yet? It's because it is confusing, and insurance companies can take advantage of that.

In some cases, you may also have exclusive use of a garage; with the same kind of arrangement as you have with your unit. You are responsible for the maintenance of the inside, but not usually the structure.

This is why this whole area is a nightmare for insurance claims and claimants. Who 'owns' the garage? Who owns the door? Was the damage on the external part of the door? Is it a 'common element' or 'exclusive use'? How was the damage caused? All these things may impact who pays.

In my own experience as a former President of a condo's Board of Directors, I can tell you that what's happening to you is common. Equally unfortunately, you'll likely have to push to get anything to happen. If you can't get your insurance company to pay, I'd suggest that you approach the Board and propose, at minimum, a cost-sharing situation. It may be your best bet.

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