Condos/townhomes and Homeowner Responsibility. Please help!

One thing I didn’t learn in my training was how to deal with condos and townhomes in regards to systems that are not the homeowners responsibility. Eg. roofs and exteriors are commonly covered by the HOA.

How do you handle these?

How do you find out what is and isn’t the homeowners responsibility and how do you determine if you are going to inspect those things?


Most HOA’s are responsible for the grounds and the building exterior and maintenance.
The occupant buys the interior of the condo.
You can always ask to read their purchase agreement and/or talk to the HOA owners.

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I just note it is an interior inspection only.


Starting to see a trend around here where the roof and siding are covered by the HOA for normal replacement, but have to be insured by the individual homeowners for hail & rain. Because of this, I have changed my approach and just inspect everything.

The individual homeowners have always been responsible for the windows and doors. There is 50% chance that they were flashed improperly so it gets into a pissing match of who should have to pay for it. Because of this, I inspect them as well.

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From this forum a long time ago:

Many of the items identified in this inspection report may fall under the care and responsibility of the Home Owner’s Association. Requests for repairs and/or corrections in these areas should be directed accordingly.

While commenting on these areas is outside the scope of your home inspection, I might comment on them to try to help you.


My responsibility is to my client and so I try to inform them of things which will affect their investment. For instance if a roof is nearing the end of it’s expected life…the HOA might raise rates to pay for replacing the roofs of the 50 buildings in the complex. I remember doing a second story condo once and underneath the floor trusses were failing.Though the buyer was not directly responsible for the engineering and repair of this…the cost could be substantial…especially since all other buildings were likely affected…and so the cost would likely be spread out and raise the HOA costs beyond a reasonable level…I think my client would appreciate knowing what’s going on with this building that his unit is in…


I always put the HOA contact in my report. I call the HOA (twice they sold to another company and no one knew until I called) to verify if I am allowed to go on the roof as part of the inspection. Most say no and that they handle those areas of concern. I document what I can see and state “Please consult with HOA for further assistance” on issues I feel need to be addressed concerning the exterior and walkways of the property. Note: a leaky roof is HOA’s responsibility but the damage inside it may cause inside might be on the owner so that’s why I evaluate everything.


HOAs are all different as to what they cover. Higher end Condo and Developments may cover everything at the outside. The grounds, roof and all things exterior. Those are the ones Charging most likely $200 + in monthly dues. However lower end HOA’s although in general they may be responsible for things like the roof, common grounds or the exterior of the home they may assess a special extra charge such as when roofs need to be replaced throughout the complex or when the exterior is in need of repainting etc. These are the ones that charge maybe something like $40 a month in dues.
The only way to know is to read the paperwork. I will normally when inspecting the exterior of the home will include and comment on the roof in the general area of the unit I am inspecting even if the unit I am inspecting is at a lower level.

If I run across something at the exterior that needs correction I may advise them to check if it is covered by the HOA (however still needs to be corrected). Also if I run across issues at the outside that may affect my client I will report on it especially if it is a safety issue. (I’m not myopic to only the inside of the unit).
It is up to the client and their agent to find out who is responsible for some of these (exterior defects or issues) as we do not have access or the time to wade through multiple pages of an HOA’s legalese written by lawyers.

In short; Don’t just assume that something is covered by an HOA as it may be a financial burden to your client if you are mistaken.




Good quote for the narrative file Larry! I usually point out obvious deficiencies the HOA is responsible for and recommend the buyer bring it to the attention of the HOA and maintenance, depending on the deficiency.


I agree with Ray Thornburg. I inspect it all and charge accordingly.


It is nice to see you back on our forum, Debbie!..Enjoy! :smile:

Like others have said, suggest checking everything. If the buyer doesn’t “own” it, and there’s a defect, they can then report it to the HOA and ask “if I buy this unit, what are your plans to correct this defect”. Twice I’ve had clients hear back that the HOA won’t fix it, but the client can if they want. One was snow blowing in through the large gable vent, then melting in the attic and staining the ceiling. Another was old wooden garage door deteriorating badly, HOA said we plan to replace all doors in 5 years, if you can’t wait we’ll tell you what door to buy. Other times the HOA said they would immediately fix it, at their cost, they didn’t know it was defective. Client was extremely grateful for finding it (in attic) as she would never have gone up there otherwise.

I include the following in the report for each area I am NOT inspecting.
“Exterior features including, but not limited to, service walks, grounds, exterior walls, vents, flashing, roofs and their associated components in condominium complexes are typically HOA responsibility and not included in this inspection. Any pictures or comments regarding such features are included as a courtesy only and should NOT be construed as having been fully evaluated.”
Hope this helps.

Townhomes that fall under a HOA in Alaska, I inspect them just like one that isn’t. I note in the report that depending on the HOA, there are going to be certain items that are the responsibility of the HOA and that repairs should me made and negotiated accordingly.

Evening, Jesse. Hope this post finds you well.
Think Private and Common areas.
Private areas are for the owner.
Common areas are for Shareholders.
Typically the terms of the contract draw out whom takes care of what.

I put this comment on every condo report.

The roof, exteriors and common areas are not inspected as they are typically the responsibility of the Home Owners Association, (HOA). Client is advised to verify HOA responsibilities, maintenance schedule and repair procedure before the close of escrow.

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I have similar language. I also add that any photographs and/or comments on such items are included as a courtesy only and should not be construed as having been thoroughly evaluated.
This way, I can include obvious trip hazards, improper downspouts or other items I think they should know about.