My Home Owners Association (HOA) in California is billing me $1,728 to cover the removal of the asbestos containing popcorn surface (original to the unit) of the ceiling below an area of dry rotted rafters. The ceiling and the rafters will be replaced after the asbestos removal (abatement). The suspected cause of the dry rot is either faulty roof construction or inadequate roof maintenance by the HOA.

The ceiling is in good condition and contains a working electric wire radiant heating system that will be replaced with an electric wall heater. The asbestos abatement process does not damage or remove the heating system. So far, there is no indication I will be charged for the installation of the wall heater or replacement of the ceiling.

It is possible to cut away or treat the dry rot and install new rafters adjacent to the damaged ones without disturbing the ceiling, the heating system or the asbestos popcorn. However the roofing contractor will not guarantee this method for fear surviving dry rot could infect the new wood.

The $1,728 bill was delivered to my email at 5 PM the day prior to the removal which began at 8 AM the next morning. Until then I was unaware that asbestos abatement was considered my responsibility. I was not given the opportunity to participate in the contractor selection process.

The $1,728 total is composed of $1,350 for actual removal and $380 for project management, overhead and profit fees.



My questions are:
1. Whose responsibility is the asbestos popcorn ceiling?
2. Who is responsible to pay for asbestos abatement?
3. Would I be responsible for the $380 in fees since I could have contracted for the abatement service directly without the intermediaries the HOA used?

The pertinent sections of the CC&Rs state the following:
1.1.3 Unit shall mean the elements of a Condominium which are not owned in common with the Owners of other Condominiums. The boundaries of each unit as shown on the Condominium Plan are the interior unfinished surfaces (not including paint, paper, wax, tile, enamel or other finishes) of the ceilings, floors, interior bearing walls and perimeter walls, windows and doors thereof ……
10.1 Owner’s Obligation to Repair.
Each Owner at his expense shall be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the interior of his unit (Living Area and Garage Area), the appliances and equipment located in his Unit, and the plumbing, electrical heating and cooling systems servicing his Unit, whether such systems are located within the Unit or underneath, above, or within the exterior or interior bearing walls of such Unit….. The Association, however, shall be responsible for the maintenance and repair of any of the above described systems if such work would affect the structural integrity of any portion of the Common ……
10.3 Right of Entry for Maintenance and Repairs. The Association and its agents shall have the right to enter upon any Unit to the extent that such entry is necessary to carry out the repair and maintenance of the Common Area or to perform any work reasonably related to the performance by the Association of its responsibilities under the terms of this Declaration. Such right of entry shall be exercised in such a manner as not to interfere with the possession and enjoyment of the Owner and/or Owners of such Unit as little as is reasonably possible and shall be preceded by reasonable notice wherever the circumstances.