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Who’s On the Hook When a Resident’s Contractor Damages the Building?

February 8, 2016


The owner of a Union Square condominium was having his apartment renovated when the contractor’s men accidentally scratched the elevator door with a ladder. The contractor admitted responsibility for the damage, but the building’s property manager told the contractor not to pay the building any money – because the building was taking $600 out of the unit-owner’s damage deposit to cover the repair. Did the manager do the right thing?

A condo has a relationship with unit-owners, not with the contractors or subcontractors they hire, says the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times. So if the building is damaged by a contractor, the board will seek compensation from the unit-owner who hired the contractor. Smart boards require unit-owners to sign an agreement before renovation work begins.

“These agreements make crystal clear that the condominium owner and not the contractor is liable for any damage to building property, which includes the elevator,” says real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey.

Most buildings also require contractors to take out an insurance policy that names the condominium and the unit-owner as additional insureds. It’s also possible to file a suit against the contractor in Small Claims Court for up to $5,000.

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