Our association has a list of preferred contractors for homeowners to use for work inside their homes. Does the association face increased liability?
Whether any possible liability attaches here may depend on what it takes to get onto the list. If it is just a list of contractors that other homeowners have used—and not really one that is “approved” or promoted by the association—then it is unlikely that any liability would attach. Associations should generally avoid indicating that they have somehow vetted or are promoting any specific contractors.
Many boards mistakenly transform their authority to approve changes into broad oversight of details of the work, including who can do the work.
Another element to consider here is that the association’s list is for work inside a home—an area over which associations almost never have control. Condos and cooperatives may have rules that require approval for changes that affect the structure in some way, but otherwise, interior changes may not need approval.
Protecting the community from disreputable contractors may not always be possible. Because work on a condominium unit often involves work affecting the common elements, many condominiums do require that any contractor carry insurance that lists the condo as an additional insured, specifically have worker’s compensation insurance, and be licensed for whatever work they are actually doing.
We usually recommend leaving lists of good or bad contractors to individual owners, Angie’s List-type services, Facebook, or Nextdoor—and not officially involving the association.
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