If you have a water intrusion issue and live in a homeowners' association, consider taking these steps to fix your problem.
Call Your Property Manager/Board Representative as Soon as You Discover the Problem
As soon as you discover the problem, make sure you call your property manager or Board representative. Seek instructions as to how they would like the water cleaned up and your property dried out. Water should not be allowed to stand, otherwise it will likely cause a mold issue.
Take Care of the Problem
Follow the instructions of your property manager/Board representative. Cooperate throughout all steps of the remediation process, even though this is likely to be inconvenient.
Document the Issue
Take pictures of the affected areas, if possible. Also consider taking photos of any remediation/repair process. Keep track of who you contact concerning the issue, including information about who you spoke with, what was discussed, and what was decided.
Call Your Insurance Agent
You may have coverage for the water intrusion under your homeowners' or renter's policy. Call your insurance agent to see if you have coverage and whether it makes sense to file a claim.
Obtain a Complete Copy of Your CC&Rs, Bylaws, and Rules and Regulations
The HOA's CC&Rs, Bylaws, and Rules and Regulations will contain information about how water intrusion matters are supposed to be handled, including who will bear responsibility for the repairs to be made. If you do not have a complete copy of these documents, contact your property management company/Board to get them.
Keep all documents and photographs pertaining to the water intrusion event in one place, including contact information for your property management company/Board members.
Keep Track of Damaged Items
Make a list of all items damaged by the water intrusion event, including personal property items, and structures. Keep track as you go along, so you don't forget anything.
Obtain estimates for the items damaged by the water. If you decide to file a claim with your insurance company, an adjuster will likely do this on your behalf. If so, make sure to get copies.
Consider Writing a Letter to the Property Management and/or Board of Directors
If your issue is not being handled to your satisfaction, consider writing a letter to the property management company and/or Board of Directors. Include an outline of your contacts with the Board/property management company, citations to the CC&Rs, photographs, estimates, and any other pertinent information. You may wish to have an attorney review your letter before you send it.
**Be mindful of any deadlines to file a lawsuit. Failure to timely file a claim will prevent you from maintaining a lawsuit, even if the reason you waited was to attempt to resolve the dispute*
Consider Attending an HOA Meeting
If your issue is still unresolved, consider attending an HOA meeting to discuss your concerns. Use your letter as an outline.
If All Else Fails, Consult an Attorney
If you have gathered and organized the items listed above, it will make the consultation process more efficient. It will make it much easier for an attorney to evaluate your claim and to provide advice. It will also show the attorney that you are serious about the process.
Additional resources provided by the author
Disclaimer: Please note that this guide does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This guide does not create an attorney-client relationship.