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Subfloor ownership in California condo

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New member
Hello all,

I recently bought a condo in California that has squeaking and cracking sounds issues coming from the upstairs unit. The short version of the question is: who is responsible for fixing squeaking/cracking subfloors?

Below is a more comprehensive explanation of the situation:

I have been trying to solve the issue by working with our condo property management company who has asked to perform an Impact Insulation Class (IIC) test using a tapping machine so that they could see if the sound was above the threshold. Unfortunately, this test is very expensive ($5,000) and would not highlight our issue, which is not about sound transmission, but about the subfloor not well attached to the beams (according to a number of contractors' opinions). The noise happens when our neighbors are walking, and are VERY loud: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7j4fvq99h80o8d9/AACirnXfHmaKsSL9L7N9_8Z8a?dl=0

The management company brought the matter to the board, who said they were not interested in taking care of a sound issue that an IIC could not measure. Our condominium CC&R's are silent. So I went to the California Civil Code, and based on section 4185 (b), it seems to me that faulty subfloors may be the HOA responsibility:
“Unless the declaration or condominium plan, if any exists, otherwise provides, if walls, floors, or ceilings are designated as boundaries of a separate interest, the interior surfaces of the perimeter walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, and outlets located within the separate interest are part of the separate interest and any other portions of the walls, floors, or ceilings are part of the common area."

I brought that point to the property management person, who brought it to the HOA attorney who concluded that because there is nothing specifically said about "subfloor" in either the CC&R or Civil Code – therefore it is not clear who is liable, and that the HOA is not liable...

I have reached a dead-end and I have been working on this for the last 8 months. It is still unclear to me who is liable for fixing the subfloor. Anyone? :)


The law you quoted defers to your governing documents, so what do your documents say are the boundaries of a unit or separate interest?

There should also be a statement that anything outside the boundaries is common area, and that the owners association is responsible to maintain the common areas.

Most documents have a provision for quiet enjoyment. I would find that provision as well.

It sounds like the lawyer is just sticking up for the association, and not really getting to the bottom of it. The documents do not have to mention subfloor. It's enough that the subfloor is outside of a unit.

I agree you are going to need a lawyer.


New member
Indeed, we have something in our CC&R's, see bellow.

Festival, following your guidance, I guess the important part is: "Separate Interest" shall mean the elements of a Condominium that are not owned in common with the Owners of other Condominiums within the Project.

Which in other words says that everything is owned in common with the Owners, but, for the Separate Interests. And because the subfloors are not in it, therefore the association is in charge?

Thank you for your help :)
Last edited:


I can't see the file (graphic?) that you pasted from your CCRs.

The wording you posted is general. You need the actual boundaries. The idea is to show that the subfloor is outside of your unit and is therefore common area that the association maintains. In order to do so, you have to find the boundaries of the unit.

It may be in the condominium plan or a map that is part of the documents, possibly in the definitions or a description of the property. You're looking for something that reads something like this: the boundaries shall be the unfinished surfaces of the perimeter walls, ceiling and the unfinished floor, and the space so enclosed…. Or it may talk of the studs or other surface that is the boundary.

This should have been abundantly obvious to the board and the lawyer, but it sounds like they are obstructing and stalling, so you have to show them the boundaries from your CCRs.

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