If you need more proof that preventive maintenance is the best solution for your community, consider the Sands V. Walnut Gardens case. This case epitomizes deferred maintenance and outlines the repercussions an association can face for neglecting to properly maintain their common area components.
A pipe along the roof of the complex burst causing water damage to the roof and the plaintiff’s bedroom. The association, through their management company, hired someone to repair the pipe and roof, but did not repair the damage to the plaintiff’s bedroom. The plaintiff filed suit against the management company and association for breach of contract and negligence. Under the CC&Rs, the association had a responsibility to maintain, in “a first-class condition”, all common area components which included the pipes along the roof. The Plaintiff’s argued that the association failed to provide preventive maintenance; and, according to their witness, the association had not inspected or maintained the pipes in years. The trial court granted a nonsuit in favor of the association, but the appellate court reversed the decision.
By failing to provide preventive maintenance on the roof pipes, they were deferring the maintenance or as they say, “kicking the can down the road”. Deferring maintenance invites unwanted liability and creates a multitude of components needing corrective maintenance.
The reason most associations fail to implement smart preventive maintenance strategies is a combination of cost and short-sighted thinking. Within all HOA budgets there is money allocated for the maintenance of each common area component. By utilizing this money to implement a preventive maintenance program, the association is committing to the long-term success of their community; avoiding the liability of deferred maintenance, limiting the money spent on corrective maintenance and preventing the need for special assessments. A win-win-win for the association.
“Corrective Maintenance” is fixing something after it is broken so that the broken equipment, building component or system can be restored to its operational condition – i.e. you replace or repair those things that have broken.
“Preventive Maintenance” is maintenance that is performed regularly on operational equipment, systems or building components to lessen the likelihood of the components failing or breaking down prematurely.
“Preventive Maintenance Program” is a monthly program that uses a combination of Inspections, Corrective Maintenance and Preventive Maintenance. The inspections are the first step as they identify building components that are either broken (corrective maintenance), breaking down or wearing out (preventive maintenance). The program will first repair or replace all components needing corrective maintenance. Once all corrective maintenance issues have been resolved the program will implement on-going preventive maintenance on common area components.
Being proactive is the key to preventing the headache and hassle experienced in the Sands v. Walnut Gardens case. While it is impossible to prevent all breakdowns from occurring, maintenance programs help curb repair and replacement costs by working to prolong the lifespan of each component. Keeping your community in great condition and homeowners happy for years to come.