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Radiator Leaks: Are Boards Responsible for Damages Caused? Well, Yes and No

John J. LaGumina in Board Operations on November 13, 2012

New York City

Board Responsibility Radiator Leaks
Nov. 13, 2012

Instead, the co-op board has a duty to promptly repair a radiator when a problem is brought to its attention. If the board fulfills this obligation and makes the prompt repair, its remaining responsibilities are governed by the casualty-loss provisions in the proprietary lease.

These provisions state that when there is damage due to an unforeseeable casualty, the cooperative is responsible for making repairs to any damaged walls, floors and ceilings but not to any damaged furniture, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, decorations or personal property located in an apartment. 

In practice this usually means that the cooperative only needs to restore the sheetrock and perhaps add a coat of primer. It does not have to pay for any wall coverings or decorations. The affected shareholder would need to look to his or her own contents insurance for any damaged furniture, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, decorations and personal property.

Legal Lesson

The board members learned that they are not guarantors against leaks and that their governing documents need to be examined before making decisions on leak repairs. Fortunately for this cooperative, the board raised the right questions before incurring the expenditures.

 

John J. LaGumina is a partner at The LaGumina Law Firm.

Photo by Jennifer Wu

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