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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 32354
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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This question concerns a homeowner association in

Customer Question

This question concerns a homeowner association in Pennsylvania. The homes are townhomes and as a homeowner association, the owners own their own homes inside and out.
The association's documents make the association responsible for maintenance and replacement of the buildings' roofs and siding (the sheathing, moisture barrier, and outside coating which is stucco).
The association has neglected the maintenance of the siding, roofs, and flashing. Now the board is deciding upon making major repairs and warned owners that there may be wood rot in the framing of the buildings. Owners will have to pay this directly as it is not an HOA responsibility.
Owners have asked that this due to the lack of maintenance and is a consequence of not correctly maintaining the roofs, flashing, and siding properly.
The board's attorney responded that the declaration does not allow the owners to hold the association or the board members responsible to consequential damages due to the board's actions or lack of action.
Can this be true? It doesn't sound right. The board is responsible for maintaining the outside of member's homes but they are not responsible for the consequences their decisions?
Even if the declaration does say this, can this be legal? It doesn't seem just.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 9 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

Since your questions are phrased "can this be true" and "can this be legal" then the answer is "yes". However, it isn't automatically legal.

All situations like this are dependent on two things, 1) the actual language contained in all of the documents, and 2) the actual facts of the individual case.

Different HOAs have different documents which control their actions. Some of these have mandatory language (usually phrased as "shall") and others have discretionary language (usually phrased as "may"). If there is a document which states that the HOA "shall" make the repairs which would have prevented this damage and they failed to do so then they would be subject to a lawsuit. If the language said they "may" make repairs then the chances of success in a lawsuit aren't as strong. It may still be possible, depending on the facts.

The only way you're going to know for sure if you have a lawsuit with a chance of succeeding is to take a copy of all of the documents, emails, etc. to a local lawyer and let them quiz you on the facts involved. The lawyer may also have to get copies of the minutes of the HOA board meetings or other materials depending on exactly what happened.