Is a condo owner responsible for termite damage?

Owners of condominium units in Alabama may wish to learn all they can about a property’s termite bond in order to help avoid paying for unexpected repairs. The Post and Courier reported on the homeowners association of a 42-unit condo complex that sued their management company when each unit owner received a $60,000 bill for termite damage. The fees included water damage and other repairs required after officials ordered the complex evacuated. Some displaced condo owners had to stay in a hotel for about three weeks.

Fire marshals conducted an inspection and found that termites had damaged the building’s stairs. The HOA contacted the pest control company that held the property’s termite bond and was informed that the bond was canceled two years before the damage occurred.

The HOA then filed a lawsuit in South Carolina against the complex’s property management company. The complaint alleged that the management company did not properly maintain the complex’s termite protection. The termite bond was voided as a result of management failing to allow the pest control company to inspect the building. This caused each unit owner to receive a $60,000 bill for termite damage repairs when they believed the property was insured.

A termite bond generally covers damages to the complex’s external structures. It may also protect against termite damage occurring in common areas such as hallways, stairs and patios, as usually specified by the HOA documents. Repairs for termite damages to the inside of a single condo unit, however, may be the responsibility of its owner. Maintaining a separate termite contract for a unit may be an available option and could help in reducing unexpected costs from termites that may burrow into a condo through the common areas. Staying regularly updated on the status of the complex’s termite contract may also prevent a surprise invoice for termites that spread from another unit.

This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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