Radon in a Condominium - Whose Problem?
Testing and mitigation of radon in condominiums poses some issues. In a single family home or an apartment building, there is no question who is responsible for fixing a radon problem. However, in a condominium (where ownership changes hands at the "envelope" of the living space), the situation is muddier.
In our not so humble opinion, unless there are special exclusions in the association bylaws, the association itself is responsible for fixing radon problems that may be discovered in any of the units. Here are the five main arguments:
- The radon originates outside the unit, i.e. in association property. It is their radon!
- All condo associations are responsible for preventing water from seeping into the unit from the ground or through roof leaks. It is irrational to hold the association responsible for invasion of liquids, but not gases.
- The "stack effect" that sucks radon out of the ground is beyond the control of a single owner. It's the whole building acting as a system that creates the vacuum in any unit's basement.
- The standard solution to a radon problem (subslab depressurization) requires penetrating the envelope twice. Once to collect the radon from beneath the slab, and again to dump it back into the association's territory at roof level. Both business ends of the radon system are in association territory.
- The fix inevitably affects other units. If done properly, it will also improve radon levels in adjoining units; if done improperly it could cause radon or even carbon monoxide buildup in them.
We have been using these arguments on clients' behalf since 1996. Sometimes they worked, but sometimes the client (who was moving) chose not to pursue the matter. Someday Michigan condo law may settle the issue.