Dear Paul: If an owner who hires a third-party contractor to perform work on their unit and the contractor damages part of the common element in the process, who is responsible for the repairs to the common element, the corporation, the owner or the contractor?
JS: It would be nice if this were an easy question to answer, however like most events in life it is not necessarily a black and white answer. If the damage is extensive and repairs cannot wait, the corporation, depending on the wording of your governing documents, may be responsible to correct the situation. The question will then become: “Who can the corporation invoice for the repairs?” I am not a lawyer, but I believe there are two possibilities. Since there is no direct connection between the corporation and the offending contractor, the corporation may be able to hold the owner liable and add the cost to their common element fees account. The owner could then seek redress from the contractor with whom they had established a contractual relationship. The other option would for the condo corporation to go after the contractor since it is the contractor that caused the damage. If the owner had not hired the contractor or monitored the work performed more closely, damage may have been avoided. In the final analysis, the unit owner is most likely responsible for the cost of the repair.