Water from exterior and gutters have damaged my unit

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Latest post Sun, Mar 26 2017 6:07 PM by karen2222. 2 replies.
  • Sat, Mar 25 2017 12:47 AM

    Water from exterior and gutters have damaged my unit

    I live in a 36 unit 3-story condo in seattle, wa. I am on the third level. The building was built in 1956 and then in 2008 it was renovated into condos. I purchased my unit and moved in in 2014. It is a 1 bedroom 500 square feet all hardwood floor unit. We are managed by a condo management group.

     

    There has been water intrusion going into my unit for quite some time it appears.. It entered through an exterior wall on the back side of our building. My unit is the only one to have this issue going on.

     

    I reported the incident as soon as I saw water on my hardwood floor in my bedroom coming from that exterior wall under the baseboard moulding. After the HOA hired a construction team to investigate they saw that it has been going on for some time and has been entering underneath the hardwood floor over the cement(subflooring). The hardwood floor of my whole unit needs to be replaced.

     

    It turns out the water is entering from my CMU wall due to the roof scuppers being overwhelmed and the gutters have significant bellies that are not allowing the water to flow freely. The gutter anchors have pulled out of the CMU wall causing water to leak through the CMU wall. The roof scuppers, drain lines, and wall vents were poorly installed.

     

    Because the issue is due to poor craftmanship, wear and tear, and maintenance insurance is not going to cover the damage in my unit. 

     

    HOA is refusing to help out with any of the repairs as it states in the condo declaration "the association shall not be liable for damage to property caused by the elements or resulting from water which may leak or flow from outside or from any parts of the building except to the extent of any insurance proceeds available"

     

    In my eyes this is clearly their fault due to negligence, poor installation, poor maintenance and inspection of the building and they should be paying for all of the repairs to my unit or at least some of it.

     

    Are they exempt from liability in this situation due to what is stated in the declaration? Or is their still some sort of "public policy" or law that would put them on the hook for this?

     

    I've contacted a few lawyers and they all want to charge me a couple hours of labor to review the declaration but I have already reviewed the declaration and that is the portion that the HOA attorney is using on me.

  • Sat, Mar 25 2017 9:55 AM In reply to

    Re: Water from exterior and gutters have damaged my unit

    This is the third or fourth site (I lost count) you are on today.

    Same answer:

    You won't get anywhere without a lawyer so accept that you will have to pay one to review your options.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Sun, Mar 26 2017 6:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Water from exterior and gutters have damaged my unit

    xaviermike24:
    Because the issue is due to poor craftmanship, wear and tear, and maintenance insurance is not going to cover the damage in my unit.

    YOUR insurance isn't going to cover the damage, but assuming the HOA has liability insurance, then the HOA's insurance will cover the HOA if you sue it.  The question is, will their insurance company decide to settle with you and pay for some or all of your repairs or will it decide to use its legal staff to fight you all the way?  And if it does fight, will you be able to win both your repair costs and enough of your legal fees to make the lawsuit worthwhile?

    I believe you have the legal right to view or receive a copy of the HOA's master insurance policy.  In your shoes, I would exercise that right and get a copy, both so I could read it myself and so I could bring it, together with the condo association governing documents, to a lawyer for a consultation.  You have nothing but a little of your time to lose by familiarizing yourself with what it says.

    xaviermike24:
    The roof scuppers, drain lines, and wall vents were poorly installed.

    The condo association is not liable for anything it didn't do, which includes anything that was done before it took over from the declarant (the developer that created the condo).  The association is only responsible for its own failures.  So to prove its negligence caused your water damage you'd have to prove that it failed to exercise reasonable care in inspecting and maintaining the components whose failure resulted in your water damage (unless those components were installed by the condo association sometime after 2008). The mere fact of a failure is not sufficient to show negligence - you'd have to show your damage would not have happened if they had acted reasonably.

    xaviermike24:
    Are they exempt from liability in this situation due to what is stated in the declaration? Or is their still some sort of "public policy" or law that would put them on the hook for this?

    I am not aware of any law that would overrule the association's governing documents on such a matter.  One COULD exist, but I doubt it.  Washington State condominium laws are in Title 64 RCW. Chapter 64.32 applies to condos created before July 1, 1990 and Chapter 64.34 applies to condos created after that date.

    xaviermike24:
    I've contacted a few lawyers and they all want to charge me a couple hours of labor to review the declaration but I have already reviewed the declaration and that is the portion that the HOA attorney is using on me.

    I'm pretty sure the lawyers would read or skim the entire declaration and other governing documents (such as your deed and the bylaws), looking for ALL wording with relevance to this issue.  They would use their general knowledge of both laws and caselaw (judicial precedents) together with what they learn from reading your condo documents to form their opinions of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the likely number of hours they would have to devote to your case.  Well worth a few hundred dollars if they know what they are doing, IMHO.  If the estimated legal fee is as high as the entire cost of your repairs, you could consider filing your lawsuit in small claims court without a lawyer even though you can only sue for $5,000 or less.  $5,000 is better than nothing.

    BTW, you don't need to file your lawsuit right away - I think you have 3 years - so it makes sense to wait until (1) you feel confident the association has fixed the leak and no more water will come in and (2) you have a good idea of the cost of your repairs (the best information comes from having actually replaced the floors before you sue).

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