Whose wall is it anyway? Every Phoenix homeowner should know.

Tree fell on wallOr you can wait for a Phoenix Monsoon storm to find out!

The recent string of Monsoon storms has demonstrated the power of mother nature and the destructive effects of high winds that accompany those storms. The result of the Monsoon storm that came through Phoenix on the last day of August left over 55,000 residents without power, closed highways, and snapped power lines. Over an inch of rain fell in some parts of the valley.  Rain in Phoenix is always welcome, but this  came at a price.  A common site in many valley neighborhoods was fallen trees. If one of these trees falls on a wall, who is responsible to repair the wall?

 

In case your wall is damaged in a storm, who is responsible?

El Dorado Lakes Toppled Wall

It really never occurred to me to look into this until I was on my way home and  notice that fallen trees had crushed many of the common walls throughout the subdivision. Besides the damage causes by the falling trees, the winds alone that were said to have reached up to 60 mph toppled a few stand alone walls.  Then the question became, “who is responsible to fix these walls?”

A quick call to the HOA and a review of the  CC&R’s will give you the answer. If the wall  is between two neighbors that share a wall, they share the cost 50/50.  When  the wall is between a common area and a homeowner, it is still a 50/50 split, but now it is shared equally between the homeowner and the HOA.  The exception to this  is if the damage was caused by one of the lot owners, then it is their sole responsibility.Fallen tree on McQueen

Remember when you bought your  house? This was spelled out in legal language in the subdivision CC&R’s which stands for conditions, covenants, and restrictions.  Few perspective owners read this document unless it is 1 a.m. and  they cannot fall asleep. Reading the CC&R’s in an attempt to fall asleep is more effective than Nyquil! Because they are that boring, but they do contain the conditions and covenants that every homeowner agrees to follow. The CC&R’s will most likely explain the responsibility with wording something like this, “party walls shall be maintained and repaired at the joint cost and expense of the adjoining lot owners, or of the adjoining lot owner and the association if the party wall divides a lot and common area.”

Reviewing the CC&R’s during the inspection period would be very beneficial if you are considering buying a home next to a common area to be aware of your responsibility for damage caused by a storm.

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