Is Your Roof leak Covered? Best to check with your HOA

Accidents happen. Whether it’s inclement weather, kids rough-housing, or even a piece of space junk falling from the sky, your roof can be exposed and damaged from a variety of different scenarios. Suppose your roof needs repair after an accident or just in need of an inspection. In that case, it is best to know your HOA’s policies regarding liability and insurance of a roof leak so you can determine who bears responsibility. You may have to pay less (or more) than you think for that roof leak.

Roof coverage depends on what is outlined by your HOA. In the CC&Rs, this should be outlined in detail, but what usually ends up being the case in California is that roof liability depends on the kind of unit you own or rent. The roofs of connected townhomes and condo buildings often fall into the category of common areas. They, therefore, are covered by the HOA’s insurance policy. This is good news because HOAs with large condo or townhome developments almost always develop and maintain reserves designed for these kinds of expenses funded in part by your dues. However, this is the best-case scenario. In the event of severe damage, your association may vote to charge higher dues to cover the cost.

While you are usually expected to insure and maintain your unit, it is also common that a portion of your dues contributes to the association’s “master policy,” which is the insurance policy that covers much of the common areas of the community. Such policies often take one of two forms: “Bare Walls” and “All Walls.” Bare Walls usually covers roofs, exteriors, pools, elevators, common area patios. All Walls usually covers interior features such as floors, countertops, and cabinets. Either way, the roof is often hidden, given certain coverable events.

Suppose you live in “detached housing,” AKA a standalone structure such as a traditional house. In that case, your coverage may be structured differently. Oftentimes for standalone properties, roofs and other features are almost never considered common areas. Therefore, they are not covered under the HOA’s master policy. If this is the case, then you’ll have to bear the brunt of your roof coverage on your own as the master policy does not cover personal property.

It’s also important to keep in mind that hiring insured contractors is often necessary when dealing with roof repairs. Hiring an uninsured contractor to inspect or repair your roof can be a severe financial risk. Suppose a contractor accidentally damages your neighbor’s roof or another common area through negligence. In that case, even if the HOA insures it, you are still liable, as the HOA did nothing wrong. That is why it is also common for associations to require their tenants to purchase liability insurance – so the homeowner – and the community can be protected.

The best thing to do is take a look at your HOA’s CC&Rs ahead of time, as they can help answer any questions you may have about your roof coverage. It’s always important to know what is covered by insurance in your community.