The Board Has the Right to Enter a Condo Unit
Winter is a time when bad things can happen inside a vacant condominium unit. Snowbirds fly to the south for warmth, and in their haste to leave the frigid north, may leave their vacant homes unprotected against freezing weather. Pipes can break, and then water can flood the unit with no one home to shut off the water. Inevitably, it will take someone from outside of the unit to become aware of the water disaster inside and to alert the Board. Usually, it’s the next door neighbor or the owner below.
When the Board hears from the next door neighbor about water running in the vacant unit, the Board needs to take action immediately to protect the building and adjacent units. The Board may have to break into the unit to investigate and stop the flow of water, clean up the mess and dry out the unit to stop further damage and to keep mold from taking over.
We are frequently asked how the Board can actually enter a unit to make repairs without the owner’s consent. Fortunately, Ohio law provides that the Board may enter a unit for health and safety reasons in order to protect the unit, the building or the persons living in the building. ORC 5311.081(B)(16) provides this right to the Board, and gives the Board protection against later claims of trespass and damage if the locks or the door has to be broken.
ORC 5311.081(B)(16) reads that the Board may: “enter a unit for bona fide purposes when conditions exist that involve an imminent risk of damage or harm to common elements, another unit, or to the health or safety of the occupants of that unit or another unit.”
The Board should not hesitate to take direct and immediate action to enter the unit when conditions exist which put the unit, the building or the occupants in danger. In such cases, the Board’s first duty is to protect the unit, the common elements, and other occupants of the building. Ohio law will protect the Board under these circumstances.
Call Williams & Strohm, LLC, Attorneys at Law, if you have questions about when or how to enter a condominium unit. 614-228-0207.
Charles T. Williams
Charles T. Williams is the founder and a principal in the firm. A native of Columbus, Ohio, and a veteran of the Vietnam war, Mr. Williams earned his law degree from Boston College Law School. He is widely recognized as one of Ohio’s foremost attorneys practicing homeowner association law and condominium law. Read Charles T. Williams's full bio.