Interior repairs in cooperative or condominium apartments aren’t as cut and dry as in a rental property. Unlike a rental, where most repairs would fall onto the landlord, there is a clear delineation of responsibilities for a shareholder / unit owner and the building.

Most corporate documents for co-op and condo buildings (proprietary lease for co-ops, bylaws for condos) will call for those repairs that are the building responsibility and those that are the shareholder / owner’s. The general rule of thumb in these buildings is that if you can see the repair, it is most likely the shareholder / unit owner responsibility. Where the building as a whole is mostly concerned with making the repairs under their own responsibility are major pipes (heating, water, etc.) that are within the walls and serve multiple units, windows, apartment doors and other common items as described in the proprietary lease or bylaws.

Pipes that serve individual units and electrical fuse boxes and wiring that serve individual units are typically construed to be that of the shareholder or unit owner. For instance, the U-bend under the sink is leaking and needs to be repaired; that’s a resident issue as this is localized to the pipes in that particular apartment. A hot water riser that is leaking behind the wall is going to be the responsibility of the building to repair since that is part of the general building system.

Although not the responsibility of the building, per se, oftentimes a cooperative or condominium building will take it upon themselves to repair minor leaks from faucets, showers and toilets. The reasoning behind this course of action is that if the building can take care of a simple leak for a relatively low price, it will save in the long-term by saving water and possible damage down the road. Each building will have its own policy, but these minor repairs to offset future losses is a practical and worthy idea.

Repairs and their responsible party can be a complex issue depending on where it originates, who it serves, where it’s accessible and the costs associated with. Once you take a look at your proprietary lease or bylaws, you’ll be able to ascertain what is and what isn’t your responsibility.

*Each building’s documents vary, so please review yours to see what your obligations are.