Damages in the apartment due to repairs to common areas. Who responds?
The owner of an apartment comments that since she acquired the property, more than ten years ago, some cracks have been detected; later, the administration found a gap in the floor, which was intervened before changing it.

As the apartment was damaged, the administration and the council hired a topographic study and verified that, indeed, the wall that faces the wall of the parking lots is sunken. The same happens on the ceiling, which corresponds to the floor of the apartment.

At that time they asked her for a quote to make the repair, but she insisted on repairing the original damage. Despite the fact that an engineer determined that the damages were the consequence of those presented in the common areas, the administration did not include in the budget the value of the repairs, arguing that “it is the responsibility of the owners.”

The consultant’s lawyer insists that it is the responsibility of all the owners and the administration and asks “what procedure should he follow?”

Another reader says that for two years she has had a very serious problem with the roof of her apartment. According to the deeds, it is the property of the building, which has six floors.

He notes that the ceilings located in those buildings –8 of 46 square meters, on average– were built as annexes, and adds that they face the original terraces or roofs (common areas for exclusive use).

Before, maintenance was in charge of the building, but for approximately ten years, the administrator has forced us to do it and allows cable antenna installers to get on and do work.

“My request not to allow that, nor to run freely on the roof of my apartment, has not been honoured. This has led to leaks that have damaged walls, wooden ceilings, and lacquer and bathroom furniture. What do I do to get this roof changed? How do I get them to paint the walls and answer for the damage caused? ”.

How to solve this problem?

Answer. In both cases, and for a long time, it has been determined that the damages produced in the apartments were due to the lack of maintenance and repair of essential common goods, such as the roof and common walls of the property (situation of the first query).

Failure to solve the situation in a timely manner is aggravating every day, not only the physical and moral damages to the residents of the apartments of the aforementioned owners, but it will increase the responsibility of the owners of the common goods against the legal claim that the affected parties may initiate.

What does the law say?

Law 675 of 2001 is very clear when it provides that – according to the coefficient of co-ownership – it is the obligation of everyone to contribute with the expenses for conservation and other expenses related to common goods and services, particularly, with the covers considered “essential”.

The same rule determines that the administrator must “take care of and monitor the common goods, and execute the acts of administration, conservation and disposition of these in accordance with the powers and restrictions established in the horizontal property regulations.”

It is also accurate when it indicates the responsibility of that controlled entity for the damages caused by fraud, slight or serious fault to the legal person, or to the owners, as happens in the cases consulted. Additionally, the law establishes that the slight fault of the administrator is presumed in case of non-fulfilment of his functions, violation of the law or the regulation.

Expert advice

I suggest that the consultants obtain a technical concept in order to determine the damages produced, as well as the works that the administration and, therefore, all the owners must carry out. Even if required, extraordinary fees can be imposed.

In the same way, you will be able to resort to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and, if necessary, file police actions for disturbance to the use and enjoyment of your private unit, so that the authority – in accordance with the provisions of the National Code of Police -, order the execution of the works, without prejudice to the fact that it may institute legal actions to obtain compensation for damages.