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Water leaks originating from an owner’s unit can be catastrophic. Leaks can affect multiple units, as well as common areas. Although condo management provides plumbing maintenance and repairs, unit owners share the responsibility to mitigate risk in their own units. Here we look at how collaboration between owners and management can help mitigate risk for widespread water damage.
Lack of Owner Diligence
According to the most recent Chubb Homeowners’ Risk Survey, homeowners fail to take the right property protection measures for their homes. Although 89% of homeowners report being “very” or “somewhat” confident in their ability to spot damage or maintenance issues, only 55% are diligent in protecting their homes. This disconnect can lead to serious water damage. The study showed internal water damage is one of the top three concerns for homeowners. Yet only 20% took action to reduce risk for leaks. Many condo homeowners might not even be aware it is their responsibility to manage risk to avoid water events. Condo boards must lead by example.
Recommendations for Best Practices
To help improve these numbers your board can provide best practice tips to unit owners to help them manage their plumbing and take proper protective measures. According to Chubb, advancements in home cameras, leak detection and water shut-off systems can all help reduce risk for water damage. Although some owners might balk at the idea of installing these tools, most are relatively inexpensive. In fact, many owners might not realize the smart home technology they use is compatible with these tools.
Educate Owners on the Condo Act
Owners might not appreciate the maintenance and repair obligations for their units are shared. Educate owners in your welcome kit so they understand:
- The corporation is responsible for repairs in common areas and units under section 89 of the Condo Act.
- Condo owners are responsible for maintaining their units including upkeep and repair of plumbing according to section 90 of the Condo Act.
- Any declarations relating to plumbing and repairs specific to your condo corporation.
When owners know they share accountability right from the start, it might motivate them to take action.
Protecting Against Water-Related Loss
Proactive risk management starts with your board. You can initiate the following steps:
- Cost-benefit analysis: Your board has a responsibility to ensure the building plumbing is sound. A cost-benefit analysis looking at the risks of your current plumbing, the cost to replace it, and the potential savings in water damage can help determine what steps to take to mitigate water related risks.
- Develop and share a water damage mitigation plan: Work with your property management company to develop a plan to manage water events. Have a service on call that can reduce the amount of water damage in case of flooding or major leaks. Share instructions with owners so they know what action is required should the event occur from their unit. Also advise owners who notice leaks but don’t know where they are coming from to report them right away.
- Perform regular inspections: Routine plumbing infrastructure inspections look at all aspects of the system. Units can also be checked for proper draining, water pressure calibration and use of things such as laundry machines not allowed in units. Ensure you follow proper protocols, so you aren’t infringing on owners’ rights.
Once you initiate these precautionary measures, you can share your plan with unit owners. Your property management company can recommend new initiatives to help mitigate water damage.
CPO Management Inc. is a property management company in Toronto and the GTA specializing in successfully running condo corporations. We help your condo board work with unit owners to improve a sense of community, while also ensuring effective building management. Reach out to us today to learn more about our condo services.