RE Q&A: Who Fixes Electric Issues in Shared Walls?


An apartment building was converted to condos decades ago, and a recently discovered problem arose: Some electrical connections serve two different owners. What now?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: I live in an apartment building that was converted to condominiums decades ago. Given the age of the building, many unit owners are doing extensive upgrades. During these upgrades, several unit owners discovered the electrical outlets on the shared wall to the abutting unit are connected to the electrical source in the adjoining unit.

Whose responsibility is it to correct this decades-old problem recently discovered? – Harry

Answer: As condominium buildings age and repairs begin, the unexpected will surely be encountered.

While some buildings were always owned as condominiums, many were converted from single-owner apartment buildings to satisfy people looking to own rather than rent. The shared electric lines likely occurred because your building was constructed for a single owner and then converted to individual units.

However, whatever the cause, the problem must be corrected now that it has been discovered.

When dealing with a community association issue, the first step is carefully reviewing your community’s formative documents. The answer you seek is likely contained in your condo’s declaration.

In most condominium apartment buildings, the association is responsible for issues on the exterior of the building, the grounds, and within the units adjoining walls. Examples include fixing the roof, replacing landscaping and repairing plumbing between units.

This leaves unit owners to deal with all the issues inside their units and on the interior side of their walls. However, please note that I said most condominiums are set up this way, and yours might be governed differently.

Given the problem you described, it is likely that the affected unit owners will need to fix the part of the problem within their unit while the association fixes the problem inside the walls.

As far as each neighbor wanting to true up with each other for using the other’s power, it will prove difficult or impossible to do so because there is likely no way to track how much power each neighbor paid for a few plugs in the other’s home.

Plus, since many were mixed up, the demanding neighbor might have to pay their other neighbor for the same issue, creating much fuss and bad feelings for minimal gain.

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