Damaged interior brick wall needs costly repair

Posted6/19/2021 7:01 AM

Q: I read your interesting piece on who is responsible for unit damage due to water leakage in a common element roof.

What about a somewhat similar scenario involving the exposed interior brick wall that is part of the perimeter brick wall of a brick condo building?


In my case, water intrusion into the exterior brick wall has migrated through the layers of brick and is causing not only unsightly and messy efflorescence on the exposed brick interior surface of the wall inside my unit, but also the interior surface bricks are spalling and chipping. Falling chips off the brick are a personal injury hazard, and the chipping and spalling brick would seem to be a threat to the structural integrity of the wall.

My condo association is taking the view that this situation falls within the general rule that a unit owner is responsible for any damage repairs to the interior surface of any wall -- from the unfinished drywall inward.

This could be a $7,000 to $10,000 repair based on two estimates. So, it's more than just a legal technicality for us. Your thoughts?

A. First step is to review your condo declaration. Presuming nothing in the association documents addresses your particular situation, I believe you have a decent argument that your repairs should be an obligation of the association.

The association is mandated by the Illinois Condominium Property Act to maintain, repair and replace defects in the common elements. However, your interior brick is possibly considered a limited common element. Again, make sure nothing in the association documents addresses maintenance, repair and replacement of limited common elements.

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Generally, a party who has a duty to maintain, repair or replace a part of a structure is responsible for the injury and/or damages caused by the failure of that part of the structure. (Section 18.4(a) of the act; also see Spanish Court Two Condominium Assn. v. Carlson, 2014 IL 115342). Clearly maintenance of the brick wall is the obligation of the association. If the exterior portion of the brick was failing, there is likely no question the association would address the repairs. Why should the interior side of the brick be any different?

Accordingly, a strong argument can be made that the association is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the interior brick and any damage caused by falling chips or other ramifications of the failure.

I would suggest consulting with an attorney that specializes in condominium law. Always tread carefully when considering a court battle with your association. Remember, your association documents almost certainly provide that you could be responsible for costs incurred by the association in litigating this matter. In the event you prevail, this is probably not an issue; however, if you lose, you would likely be paying the tab not just for your attorney, but the association's attorney, as well.

• Send your questions to attorney Tom Resnick, 910 E. Oak St., Lake in the Hills, IL 60156, by email to tom@thomasresnicklaw.com or call (847) 359-8983.

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