Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

Latest post Sun, Jan 8 2017 8:02 AM by karen2222. 248 replies.
  • Mon, Aug 11 2014 6:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    RitchieG:
    I am in Toronto.

    This site deals with US law so don't take my comments as gospel without verifying them locally.

    RitchieG:
    I've been told by insurance adjuster that I'm not liable for any damages below unless each unit owner claims on their own insurance against me;or building management claims on the building insurance against me.

    I'm not sure you would be liable even if they did claim against other insurance.

    Seems to me that the sudden and unforeseen leak of the washing machine did not involve any negligence. Check back with your claim rep about that.

    However, I suggest you also check your condo documents very carefully to see if, perhaps, you are contractually liable for damage to others caused by the operation of your unit.

    If you are not legally liable for the damage to others your insurance company should provide a defense to any action taken by the HOA.

    RitchieG:
    What should I do next? I've sent those invoices to my insurance adjuster already. Should I just wait? on the letter, it says if the payment is not received by 29th August, they will place my title in a LIEU position.

    I don't know what "title in a lieu position" means so I can't comment on that. I've never seen the phrase in the US. Might also be something that's explained in your condo documents.

    I suspect that the HOA management will do and say whatever it takes to scare you into paying. I suggest not getting into any discussions and just refer all communications to your claim rep.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Aug 29 2014 12:04 AM In reply to

    • Mrs.R
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    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    My husband and I own a townhouse in Orange County.  It’s one of four attached units.  Ours is a carriage style unit on the end with the garages below.  Over the past 3 years there have been three pin hole leaks in a pipe in our neighbors garage.  The pipe is in the shared wall separating our garages and it leads to our home.  In the first two incidents the HOA paid for the pipe repair but left the neighbor to argue with us about repairing the wall.  After she accused us of being negligent she demanded $1000.  I told her if she felt the damage was worth that much she could file a claim with her insurance.  She didn’t want to use her insurance so we ignored her.  Now three years later there is yet another leak in the same pipe.  We called a plumber who put a temporary seal on the pipe but wouldn’t fix it because our neighbor left the premises.  It’s frustrating because it’s our pipe but it’s in her garage.  Our garage has no water intrusion at all.  Our insurance will not open a claim for another property and the neighbor refuses to file a claim on her own.  We are at a loss with what to do.  We need to get access to her garage to repair our pipe.   What about failure to maintain in the CC&R’s, are we liable for damage from a pipe we have no access to and that is not on our property?  The neighbor has admitted that in each incident she waited over a week to inform us about the water intrusion, she said it wasn’t her problem.  We would never have known without her telling us.  I think she is waiting to tell us so that more damage is caused and she can get more money out of us. Advice is definitely needed and appreciated.

  • Fri, Aug 29 2014 7:46 AM In reply to

    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    Mrs.R:
    I think she is waiting to tell us so that more damage is caused and she can get more money out of us.

    Negligence law requires that she mitigate her damages by allowing repairs to be made as soon as reasonably possible. If it ever got to court a judge would not take kindly to her stonewalling you.

    Meantime, I suggest you keep careful records of what's going on and send her written notices outlining what you need to do and that you are willing to make repairs to the pipe but that you are not responsible for any of her wall damage because the leak was not due to negligence.

    You can read the earlier posts in this thread for an explanation of negligence.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Aug 29 2014 10:03 AM In reply to

    • DPH
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    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    Mrs.R:
    We need to get access to her garage to repair our pipe. 
    Mrs.R:
    The pipe is in the shared wall separating our garages

    Unless you are not explaining it clearly, if the wall is shared then you should be able to access the pipe from your side.  Yes?  if not, why not? 

    Mrs.R:
    It’s frustrating because it’s our pipe but it’s in her garage. 

    Here's a thought.  Might turn out to be cheaper, in the long run, to have that pipe rerouted to avoid future situations.  Again, is it a shared wall or not?

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • Fri, Aug 29 2014 1:52 PM In reply to

    • Mrs.R
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    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    Yes it is a shared wall.  But there is a firewall and the pipe is on the neighbors side. I don't think the firewall can be cut to fix the pipe. I don't know if the pipe can be rerouted but we would like to get the section going through her garage replaced.  The problem is the neighbor is not cooperating.

  • Fri, Aug 29 2014 2:08 PM In reply to

    • DPH
      Consumer
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    • Joined on Mon, Oct 8 2001
    • TX
    • Posts 7,875

    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    Mrs.R:
    there is a firewall

    Contact the code department in your town and find out.  Anything can be cut, question is would it still meet code.  Also you could always do it and beg for forgiveness afterwards. 

    Mrs.R:
    I don't know if the pipe can be rerouted

    Ask your plumber.  Chances are that the answer is yes.  Just depends on how much you want to spend.

    Mrs.R:
    The problem is the neighbor is not cooperating

    You always have the option of doing nothing and if they sue you use that as your defense. 

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • Fri, Sep 5 2014 11:53 AM In reply to

    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    I have a similar situation.  The coolant intake for my AC unit(part of the furnace) runs through several of my neighbors condos to the outdoor AC unit located at the end of the block.  Recently the unit has stopped producing cool air. I had a repair tech look at both units, and he believes that there is a leak in the line somewhere in the building.  The line has low pressure and when recharged it drops to normal air pressure in a matter of minutes.  He checked the line on the exterior of the building, and the interior of the condo.  

    I have spoken with the Property Manager in charge of the condo complex, and they say that because the line only services my condo it is my responsibility to fix the pipe.  I would like to do so, but the leak could exist any where between my interior wall and the exterior wall of the end unit 2 doors down.  In order to even find the leak I will need to access and cut into my neighbors walls multiple times, and after that the whole line may need to be replaced.  It seems to me that this is a restricted common element, and should be the responsibility of the building manager.  But from reading other similar posts, it seems like any damage to the walls would be the responsibility of my neighbors and their insurance companies.  I intend to let them know that the leak exists (though most of the coolant has no doubt leaked out and dissapated since the unit stopped working), and that the problem likely exists in one of their walls.  I am not expecting a response from them however, let alone a positive one.  

    What can I do get either the Property Manager, or my neighbors to allow access?  Who should pay for the repairs to the pipe, and who should pay for the walls?  Would it be helpful to get a signed document stating conditions for who will pay the damages, and what does this document look like?  I feel like my only options are to continue living without the AC I pay for, or to move out of the property.  

    Also I rent this condo, the owner is my employer.  

  • Fri, Sep 5 2014 12:51 PM In reply to

    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    Since you aren't the owner of the condo, you should be looking toward the owner to take care of this problem since the owner is ultimately responsible for ALL of this.

    As a tenant you have rights under the NJ landlord tenant statute. See 46:8 at:

    http://law.justia.com/codes/new-jersey/2013/title-46/

    You might have the right to terminate the lease or rental agreement if the unit is uninhabitable or the owner fails to make repairs to the equipment that came with the unit.

    What complicates this for you is that the owner is your employer and you risk losing your job if you push him too hard.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Sep 5 2014 1:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    Thank you for the quick response, you are a hero for sticking with this thread for so long.

    I was aware that it is the owner's responsibility.  I have an agreement with my employer that I will organize the repairs, just not pay for them.  My employer is also aware of the problem and willing to pay for what they are responsible for.  Are you saying that they would be responsible for the total cost of repairing the AC, including consequent damage to neighbors' walls?  From what I've read in this thread, damage to others' property that was not a result of negligence on my employer's part would be the neighbor's responsibility.  Or is it different because there is no existing damage at this point. 

    At any rate, even if the repair will be paid in full by my employer/their insurance, it will still inconvenience the neighbor.  What if anything can I do if they refuse to allow the repair to be done?

  • Fri, Sep 5 2014 8:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    sunchase4221:
    Are you saying that they would be responsible for the total cost of repairing the AC, including consequent damage to neighbors' walls?  From what I've read in this thread, damage to others' property that was not a result of negligence on my employer's part would be the neighbor's responsibility. Or is it different because there is no existing damage at this point. 

    There is a difference between liability due to negligence and liability due to necessity (for want of a better word).

    If there was damage to the neighbor's property due to the leak and the leak was unknown and unforeseen until the damage became evident then there was no negligence on the part of the owner and the owner would not be responsible for repair of the damage. Your owner would, of course be responsible for repair to the line to stop the leak. The neighbor would have to pay for their own repair of the damage which would likely involve upening up the wall where the leak occurred and the neighbor would have to be downright stupid to not allow repairs to the line.

    Since there is no damage and the location of the leak is not known, then the neighbor has no reason to open up the wall for inspection but your owner, knowing now that there is a leak still has a duty to repair it. Failing that duty makes him negligent if future damage occurs. So to protect himself he would have to pay for opening and restoring the walls to repair the line because the neighbors have no obligation to do so. That's the liability due to necessity part.

    sunchase4221:
    What if anything can I do if they refuse to allow the repair to be done?

    He cannot compel them to allow the repair to be done. But their refusal will give him a valid defense to allegations of negligence should damage occur in the future.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Wed, Sep 17 2014 4:06 PM In reply to

    • Lee Jackson
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    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    This thread is amazing. I have an issue that I do not believe you have covered yet.

    Last month, the tubes below my sink (directly under my faucet, accessible by opening up my bottom cupboard doors) spontaneously leaked. I saw it right away in the morning and promptly turned off the water valve and cleaned up the water. My sink has never leaked previously and there were no indicators that it was going to leak. I bought my unit back in 2009 and had my sink professionally installed at that time. 

    Later that day (the day of the leak), my neighbor below informed me that he had damage within his unit from the leak. Water damage to his ceiling and some walls. I contacted my insurance and they denied him because they determined I was not negligent as the leak was "sudden." Now I think he is going to sue me in small claims court.

    The CC&Rs do not specify what happens when one owner's unit leaks and causes damage to another.

    Am I liable for his damages?

  • Mon, Nov 24 2014 7:35 PM In reply to

    • M Egge
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    • NV
    • Posts 1

    Tub Spout Started Leaking Causing Damage Who is responsible?

    Hi, today my neighbor adjacent to me had his plumbing checked for leaks because the Condo directly below him had water damage to their bathroom ceiling. They couldn't find anything wrong with his plumbing (They tore into his wall and everything) so the plumber asked to check my bathroom and after turning on my shower determined that my tub spout/diverter was leaking water into the wall behind it and this caused the damage below.

    I immediately went to Home Depot and bought a new tub spout and installed it. 

    As the years have gone by I've noticed that when I use the diverter more and more water escapes from the front of the spout instead of going to the showerhead, but I didn't realise some of it was going out the back too.

    Tomorrow the condo association is sending a plumber to my unit I was informed. 

    Am I responsible for the damage to the downstairs unit? Am I responsible for my adjacent neighbor who had his wall opened up in search of my leak?

    My CC&R reads as follows: "Repairs Resulting from Negligence: Each Owner will reimburse the Association for any damages to any other Unit or to any Common Elements caused intentionally, negligently or by his or her failure to properly maintain, repair or make replacements to his or her Unit or to those Common Elements for which such Owner is responsible under this Declaration. The Association will be respnsible for damage to Units which is caused intentionally, negligently or by its failure to maintain, repair or make replacements to the Common Elements. If such damage is caused by misconduct, it will be assessed following Notice and Hearing."

    As an aside last year the neighbor directly below me had some kind of water damage they thought came from my unit. After checking my bathroom and not finding any leaks they determined it was the adjacent neighbor on the first floor who was the source of the damage.

    Thanks for any help.

  • Tue, Mar 3 2015 7:08 AM In reply to

    • John99999
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    Condo roof leak. Who is responsible

    The roof leaked in our building and damaged our condo ceiling. The assoissiation is handling a  roof patch but says they are not responsible for the damages in our condo. Further more they refuse to have a roofing company come inspect the roof and see what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again. What is a possible way of action to make them start working on the roof? We cannot have this happening again and again...

  • Tue, Mar 3 2015 8:50 AM In reply to

    Re: Condo roof leak. Who is responsible

    John99999:
    The roof leaked in our building and damaged our condo ceiling. The assoissiation is handling a  roof patch but says they are not responsible for the damages in our condo.

    That's probably correct.

    The only way the association could be responsible is if it had been notified of a leak or condition that could result in a leak, failed to repair it, and THEN your property was damaged. That doesn't appear to be what happened here.

    I think that your ceiling damage might be covered by your condo unitowners policy. Check with your insurance company.

    John99999:
    Further more they refuse to have a roofing company come inspect the roof and see what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again. What is a possible way of action to make them start working on the roof? We cannot have this happening again and again...

    There is NOTHING anybody can do to PREVENT this from happening again. Roofs wear out over time and leak. That's a fact of life.

    If you want a roofing company to inspect the roof periodically, you have two choices:

    1 - Pay for the inspection yourself.

    2 - Attend board meetings, get together with other like minded owners, vote out the old board and vote in a board that would be willing to have the roofs inspected periodically. Those inspections will cost money so count on having to assess all the owners for the additional periodic costs. Good luck with that.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Apr 10 2015 2:06 PM In reply to

    • Harmony77
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    Re: Condo - Leaking pipe in wall - Who is responsible.

    There was a leak from a drain pipe from underneath bathtub in my condo unit, which caused damage to the unit below. Apparently the pipe disconnected from the drain. The CC&R rules state:

     

    An owner is responsible for water damage to adjoining residences which emanates from its residence including leaks and overflows of tubs showers, dishwashers, toilets . . . 

    Does this make me contractually liable to the unit owner below me? 

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