Burst Sewage Line at Condo; Who Is Responsible for the Clean-up?

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A.J. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo flooded with sewage and clean water after a water main break. Who is responsible for clean up and repair? Lodging while unit is uninhabitable? And where can I find CT statutes regarding this issue? Thanks!

Mister Condo replies:

A.J., with the temperatures plummeting across the state and country your question is becoming all too common. I am truly sorry for your loss. I can only imagine the mess a sewage line brought and I am sure the water main damage was equally devastating. First and foremost is your homeowners or HO-6 insurance policy. I sure hope you had one or this could be an expensive lesson for you to learn. Secondarily, your association’s master policy may provide coverage to protect the association from damage done to common elements and, in some cases, your unit as well. As for lodging while your unit is uninhabitable that may depend on how the insurers classify the loss and who they claim is responsible. This is an area where you may need to seek the help of either a personal insurance adjuster (not the association’s adjuster; an adjuster who will look out for your interests) and/or an attorney in the event you need to take either the insurers or the association to court (worst case scenario). I am not certain that there are state statutes regarding this particular situation. The Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA) does define some of the insurance requirements of the association with regards to maintaining adequate insurance to cover the replacement value of the buildings and common elements but I am not aware of there being insurance requirements for the association to protect against “acts of nature” or other events that might describe a water main or sewage line break. On the other hand, individual homeowners insurance is always a best practice to protect unit owners and renters. If you did not have HO-6 insurance before this event, I am sure you will purchase it moving forward. If you did have it, I would start with that insurance to see what coverage you have in place to help you clean up and get back to normal. Good luck!

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