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CCOC Decision Summary

#292-O, Ward v. Sierra Landing Condominium Association (March 21, 1997) (Panel: Alper, Gick, Perlingiero) 

The condominium owner (CO) complained that the condominium association (CA) was improperly billing him $246 for repairs to a water pipe in his unit, which he claimed was in fact part of the common elements of the building and therefore the CA's responsibility to maintain. The CA's defense was that the water pipe involved served only the CO's unit, and was therefore not a common element.

The evidence at the hearing showed showed that a water pipe in the wall of the CO's unit had leaked into the unit below him, and the CA hired a plumber to repair the leak for $246.  The CO claimed that the cause of the damage was a construction defect, being a nail used to install the drywall that eventually penetrated the water pipe inside the wall.  The CA's bylaws stated that "all water [and] plumbing . . . systems" that are designed for "furnishing utility services into two or more unites but excluding therefrom all plumbing . . . systems and parts thereof which are enjoyed by only a single unit and are located solely within the boundaries of an individual unit" are common elements and the duty of the board of directors to maintain and repair, and that each unit owner is responsible for the repair of utility systems which "are part of and serve his unit and no other;" and defined the boundary of each unit as beginning with the top of the subfloor of that unit.   The evidence further showed that the pipe in question was not located within the boundaries of his unit, being located within the space between the subfloor of his unit and the top of the ceiling of the unit below him:  and there was some evidence to show the pipe served other units; and the CA did not produce any evidence to show that if the pipe were disconnected it would affect only the CO's unit and no other units.

The hearing panel held that the broken pipe was not within the boundaries of the CO's unit, and that it did not serve only his unit, and was therefore a common element which the CA must repair and maintain.  It ordered that the CO did not have to reimburse the CA for the cost of the repair.

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