By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
As summer weather kicks in, many condo and apartment residents look forward to spending some time out on their decks, enjoying the sunshine and some fresh air.
But, not so fast.
Do you know if your deck is safe?
A recent report from Dublin, Ohio, serves as a caution for homeowners and tenants alike. Two people were seriously injured a few days ago, when a second story balcony suddenly collapsed from beneath them.
According to a construction expert, Karin Cash, interviewed by ABC6 On Your Side, it appears that the wooden deck’s ledger board – the board that is meant to anchor the deck in place – separated from the townhouse when nail fasteners failed. Cash believes that copper used to treat the lumber may have caused corrosion of metal nails and bolts used to fasten the decks to each townhouse.
The balcony collapsed onto a vehicle parked below, breaking residents’ fall, but totaling the car, as can be seen from photos.
Condo balcony collapse prompts 150+ decks deemed ‘unsafe’
by Brooks Jarosz Friday, June 9th 2017
A condominium balcony broke free, fell and slammed into a car, injuring two people and it has prompted more than 150 other balconies to be considered unsafe.
Some condominium owners at the Falls at Hayden Run, a Lifestyle Community near Dublin, received a notice from the City of Columbus that explained it was unsafe to use the deck pending a structural evaluation.
Last week, the Columbus Division of Fire received an emergency call after a deck collapsed on a car along Mesa Falls Street. Neighbors said a man was visiting his daughter and they were on the deck when it failed. They were both rushed to the hospital with injuries.
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The condominium community of Falls at Hayden Run, managed by Lifestyle Communities of Columbus, was constructed in 2005-2006. Most of the relatively new townhouse dwellings are leased to tenants.
City of Columbus officials have deemed balconies at 150 homes in the community to be unsafe. The condo association is now responsible for correcting this safety hazard.
In the meantime, ABC6 reports that many other communities in the area contain similar balconies, and were constructed by the same builder.
The report serves as a public service warning to owners and residents in the Columbus area and beyond, to regularly inspect decks and balconies for signs of instability. For the safey of residents, it is critical to repair any defects promptly.
Liability for condo association
Condo owners and buyers take note that unfortunate accidents such at the balcony collapse at the Falls at Hayden Run create substantial financial liabilities for the association. Therefore, it is critical that the condo association maintains appropriate insurance coverage for damages and legal defense in the case of claims for personal injury or fatality. Consult a qualified insurance professional to obtain appropriate insurance.
However, be aware that if a condo or homeowners association negligently defers maintenance, or fails to conduct regular safety inspections, an insurance provider may ultimately deny paying a claim.
Prevention is always more prudent and far less expensive than deferring action and reacting to the inevitable disaster.
To monitor proper management and maintenance of an association-governed community, owners must take a proactive stance. Here are a few suggestions.
- Condo owners who do not reside in their units, and rely upon a manager to lease them, would be wise to periodically tour and carefully examine the community, as well as individual units, to ensure that tenants, the unit manager, and the association manager are taking care of the property.
- If possible, all owners, including absentee landlord owners, should plan to attend the annual meeting. If attendance is not possible, at least review the agenda, the qualifications of any candidates for the board of directors, and any pending votes on the budget or amendments of governing documents.
- All condo owners, whether owner occupants or investors, should, at a minimum, read and understand governing documents of the association, follow condo board meetings by reading the minutes, review annual financial reports and audits, and cast their direct votes (in person or by proxy) to elect condo directors or on other important business matters for the association.