What You Need To Know About Your HOA And Skylights

If you own a condominium or a planned unit development (PUD), you may find out some areas of your HOA’s governing documents are not clear in assigning responsibility for specific building components. Determining who pays for what regarding maintenance, repair, or replacement costs is often a confusing situation of many condo or PUD owners. Fortunately, we’ve highlighted everything you need to know about HOA and skylights and who generally take responsibility. Read on!

How Skylights are Classified

In condominiums and PUDs, different areas are classified differently. Where the line is drawn between HOA and homeowner’s responsibility greatly depends on whether the component is considered a unit, limited common area, or common area. So, are skylights covered by HOA? To answer this question, let’s start by understanding what skylights are.

A skylight is simply a hole on your roof. It admits abundant, beautiful daylight into your home through the roof. So, it can be considered a special window since it requires interior finishing, trimming, and framing. However, you’ll need a professional roofer to install, maintain, repair, or replace your skylights.

Because skylights are made of glass and stay on your roof all year round, they need to offer full protection from every kind of precipitation. The best skylights are made with twin panes of Comfort™ coated glass (tempered safety glass with argon gas in between to provide insulation). The glazing on either side of the glass fights heat gain as well as heat loss while allowing daylight to flood your home.

Gaskets around the glass keep away condensation while wood framing provides insulation value and makes the installation process easy. Additionally, skylights come with metal exterior cladding to provide a visually attractive and durable finish. To crown the installation, flashing is installed around the skylight opening to prevent water from seeping into your home.

Different Components of a Condo Unit

While the differences between condo or PUD components may seem small, they significantly affect HOA’s maintenance obligations. For condominiums, HOA is responsible for all common areas and limited common areas while individual homeowners are responsible for all unit areas.

Problems often arise when clear-cut designations of the unit and common area responsibilities are jumbled due to unclear governing documents.  Your HOA can preserve the value of your property and quality of life by anticipating gray areas and enacting clear amendments or policies.

Exclusive-Use Common Areas 

In Florida, the following areas are considered exclusive use common areas:

  • Porches
  • Balconies
  • Door frames
  • Screens

While there can be an overlap in responsibility for common areas, the owner of each separate interest in an exclusive common area will take responsibility for maintaining the area. Additionally, the exclusive-use common areas statutes will always apply, unless the governing documents state otherwise.

HOA Governing Documents

The declaration is the legal document “declaring” your home to be a condo. It’s recorded among the land records where your property is situated. In a condo, there are three basic areas namely common areas, units, and exclusive-use common elements.

In general, common components include the land, slabs, foundation, perimeter walls, water mains, entrance lobby, elevator, conduits, and water and electricity lines serving common areas. A unit is where you live while limited common elements include the balcony and deck not everyone in the condo community can use or access.

So, it’s important to go through the HOA governing documents and see whether the skylight is considered a limited common element, common element, or is part of your unit. Unless the governing documents state otherwise, the owner of the unit is usually responsible for the maintenance, repair, or replacement of components of the unit while the association is responsible for common and exclusive use common elements.

Common Grey Areas of Maintenance

Most HOA policies don’t address all the areas of construction which need maintenance. If your governing documents are unclear, ambiguous, or fail to address certain borderlines, you should consider working with your HOA to formulate policies on areas such as:

  • Skylights
  • Fences
  • Balcony railings
  • Sprayed on acoustical ceilings
  • Chimney flues
  • Elastomeric coatings, planks, etc

Always Get Quick Solutions to Skylight Leaks

While the legal issues surrounding skylights may be tedious and time-consuming – especially when the governing documents are unclear or ambiguous – it’s always important to repair the skylight as soon as possible to avoid costly water damage to your unit. Be sure to keep your invoices and payment receipts to help you get a reimbursement once the case is concluded.

Finally, if the “skylights” are not addressed, or you are not sure of the correct interpretation of your HOA governing documents, contact your association attorney for clarification. For more information about HOA and skylights, work with Imperial Roofing in Tampa, FL.