Is the Association Responsible for All the Costs of My Home Plumbing?

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We are a small homeowners association ( 8 houses ) in central Phoenix. When the builder put up these homes he put them all on a common water meter, so our homeowner dues include water, sewer and garbage collection, as well as common area upkeep, electric for the common area lights and liability insurance. Last night a major water line burst under the driveway of one of the homeowners, causing the shutdown of all water to the complex. The homeowner claims this is an association problem and expense, even though, at this point, we don’t know where the break actually occurred, but in any case it appears to be in a pipe on the homeowner’s property. At what point does a central utility become the responsibility of the homeowner? Is the association responsible for all costs in any home associated with the plumbing in whatever form? Where do we draw the line? I just want to know how to proceed in this matter. At the moment the HA has called in a plumber to make a determination about where the break is located and to get it fixed. The HA stepped in primarily because the homeowner refused to do so and the entire complex is without water.

The line between HOA responsibility and an individual owner’s responsibility is, unfortunately, not an easy one. As a start, take a look at the HOA documents, including any drawings. This may answer the question (once you know exactly where the break was). If not-and this is all too common-then you may be in for an argument. It depends on all the facts, so it’s impossible for me to say, and probably there are arguments on both sides. Luckily, both the HOA and the owner have insurance (right)? So this argument can take place between the insurance companies instead of between the people who have to live together.