As a townhouse roof covers more than one dwelling and townhouses are often owned by organizations and landlords, you may be a bit confused about who is responsible when you need roof repairs.

Does the HOA or a co-operative foot the bill? Or do you and your neighbor have shared roof responsibility?

There is no one answer that covers all situations, but here’s how to find out who has to pay for your townhouse roof repair.

Does the Townhouse Have a HOA?

Townhouses may be governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) or a co-operative just like condominiums. HOA collect fees from the owners of the townhomes and are typically responsible for outdoor maintenance tasks including landscaping, snow removal, and roofing. However, not all HOA take responsibility for all aspects of property maintenance. You will need to look at your specific agreement to determine if the HOA should be paying for roof repairs.

Sometimes, even when HOAs are responsible for roof repairs the organization is reluctant to begin the repairs. Thankfully, there are many legal avenues you can pursue in order to force the HOA to fulfill its obligation. Sometimes you can charge HOAs for repairs you had to do yourself. However, you should not begin a repair yourself until you’ve spoken to an attorney, so you’re sure you can recoup your costs.

Does the Townhouse Have Tenants?

If a townhouse is a rental property owned by a landlord who collects rent from a tenant, the landlord is typically responsible for the roof repairs.

Occasionally a property owner is able to argue that a tenant caused the damage to the roof. For example, perhaps the tenant stood on the roof to jump into the pool and damaged the shingles while he or she was up there. In that case the landlord may be able to recover some of the costs of the repair from the tenant, through legal action.

That being said, the landlord typically still must pay for the roof repair upfront and then seek damages from the tenant. Although, you should contact an attorney to determine your best course of action.

What If Each Townhouse is Individually Owned?

What if there is no single owner or organization responsible for the townhouses? You live in your unit and own it, and your neighbors also own their units. The roof spans all of your properties and a problem with one portion of the roof may affect the others.

These situations are complicated. You are responsible for the roof above your unit and if it develops problems which affect the other units you may also be responsible for paying damages for that. Your neighbor is responsible in the same way. However, it may be challenging to prove these cases and collect costs.

If the roof needs to be replaced, you may split the costs of the roof fairly according to how much of the roof you each own. Also, it is ideal to replace the whole townhouse roof at once, to ensure the job is seamless and that the shingles and flashing match.

Determining responsibility for roofing can be complicated when townhouses are involved. It’s always best to seek the advice of an experienced roofer and reliable attorney to determine who should be paying for what.