Maintenance of tenancy owned apartments (Bostadsrätt)

A big source of conflict beween the co-operative housing association (bostadsrättsföreningen) and their members is the delimitation between the external and internal maintenance of the property.

The responsibilities of a member of the association:

In the co-operative housing association act, chapter 7, paragraph 12, it is stipulated that the tenant should keep the apartment in a good condition at his/her own expense. That responsibility does not include reparations of plumbing, heating, gas, electricity, and water, provided that the association built the facilities and that they serve more than one apartment. This means that for instance the tenant is responsible for the plumbing from the bathroom to where it connects to the mains. This plumbing may be built by the association but it only serves one apartment.

Furthermore it is stipulated that the tenant is only responsible for damage caused by fire or leakage from incoming water if the tenant, a family member of his, tradesmen, or a guest has been reckless.

The responsibilities laid on the tenant is called the internal maintenance. In accordance with the internal maintenance the tenant makes sure that the internal finishes are maintained and that they at the very least cause no harm to the other parts of the property. In the bylaws of the association the tenants responsibility can be specified, but never expanded. The association can assume responsibilities in the bylaws that go beyond what is stipulated in law.

Responsibilities of the association for the external maintenance:

Every space not included by the tenants internal maintenance is part of the associations responsibility for the external maintenance. This means that every wall and floor/ceiling between the apartments, outer walls, common areas, outer roof, lofts, cellars, etc. fall under the responsibilities of the association. Drawing the line between what falls on the association and what the tenant is responsible for can be hard. Both law and bylaws needs to be examined and interpreted.

It is however very important for both the association and the tenants to understand the different problems that can occur and to figure out who is responsible for what in the property. For instance the responsibility for something that on a first glance might have been considered the tenants problem might, after consulting a lawyer, turn out to be the responsibility of the association. A lawyer should be consulted to bring clarity into situations where it is unclear where to draw the line between external and internal maintenance.

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