The owner of a residential unit in a common interest development (CID) managed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) notified the HOA of multiple plumbing incidents occurring on the property. The HOA obtained a plumber to service the drain line to the owner’s unit following each incident. Later, the HOA obtained a plumber to service the development’s main drain line but did not cure the defect causing the backups. A backup in the drain line later produced a plumbing incident which caused flooding damage to the owner’s unit. The owner made a demand on the HOA for money to compensate for property damages caused by the flooding from the backup of the drain, claiming the HOA neglected to promptly and consistently maintain and repair the development’s common area plumbing as stated in the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). The HOA rejected the demand, claiming the HOA obtained a plumber to service the development’s common drain line and management had the right to judge the method of maintenance and repair of the development’s common areas without imposing liability. A California court of appeals held the HOA was liable for losses incurred by the owner for the flood damage caused by the backup in the CID’s drain line since the HOA’s duty owed to the owners of units to maintain and repair common areas is a nontransferable duty contained in the CC&Rs governing an HOA. [Affan v. Portofino Cove Homeowners Association (2010) 189 CA4th 930]

Editor’s note – The general rule of thumb governing the management of CIDs is that common areas are covered. In the case of Affan v. Portofino Cove Homeowners Association, the HOA was liable for the flooding damages caused since it was a result of neglect and disrepair in a plumbing line serving the common areas of the development. Yet, the same holding remains true in the event damages are caused by a plumbing line which exclusively serves only an owner’s unit. In this event, the common areas are covered rule applies since the plumbing line, though servicing only one unit, is considered a part of the entire common area plumbing system. [Dover Village Association v. Jennison (2010) 191 CA4th 123]