Cleaning Fireplace Flues in a Co-op
February 20, 2005



Q: I live in a co-op building in which several apartments have fireplaces. Are there any general rules or guidelines as to who is responsible for cleaning the fireplace flues, the co-op or the shareholder?

–Aino Jonah, Forest Hills, Queens.

A Lior Aldad, a Manhattan co-op lawyer, said that the allocation of responsibility for maintenance of a fireplace in a co-op apartment is typically addressed by the building’s proprietary lease. And most proprietary leases in buildings with fireplaces, he said, make the shareholder responsible for maintenance and repair. But, he said, the lease may or may not indicate whether maintenance of a fireplace includes cleaning the flue.

Generally, Mr. Aldad said, if the proprietary lease does not specifically make a shareholder responsible for an element or fixture of an apartment, the co-op corporation is responsible. But since a fireplace flue could reasonably be considered part of the fireplace, it is possible the board could interpret the fireplace maintenance clause to include cleaning the flue

Accordingly, Mr. Aldad said, the letter writer should determine whether cleaning the flue is addressed in the proprietary lease or whether the board has interpreted the fireplace maintenance provision to include cleaning the flue. If the issue has not been addressed, he said, the co-op is probably responsible for cleaning the flue.