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Meet with the building’s managing agent and engineer to create a plan to deal with leaks.
AUTHORDennis H. Greenstein
Make sure your proprietary lease and house rules codify shareholder responsibilities related to leaks and leak damage, and have a plan in place to deal with them.
We represented a co-op building that had a number of leaks within a short period of time. Each was caused by shareholders and caused significant water damage to other apartments and common areas of the building. We met with the board and evaluated what steps could be taken to reduce the leaks and to create greater legal requirements to protect the building and its shareholders. Merely submitting insurance claims to the carriers of the cooperative and hoping they would cover the losses was not a viable option.
We also met with the building’s managing agent and engineer to see if there were conditions that contributed to the frequency of the leaks. As a result of the inspections, the engineer suggested annual inspections and maintenance of certain plumbing pipes and fixtures that, under the proprietary lease, were the responsibility of the shareholders. They included checking visible piping in bathrooms and kitchens as well as toilet gaskets, inspecting caulking in showers and bathtubs, and testing shower pans. We recommended that the cooperative’s proprietary lease be amended to require all shareholders to carry insurance policies that covered damages and losses resulting from leaks and similar conditions. We also suggested that the proprietary lease and house rules be expanded to codify shareholder responsibilities relating to these issues. The board also implemented a more aggressive policy to act on the enforcement of the proprietary lease and house rules.
A board can take action to implement fair and protective measures that the shareholders will support after being informed of the problem and presented with viable solutions.