Condo Unit Owner Blamed for Mystery Water Leak

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J.V. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own a unit on the second floor of my condo building. The unit under me is empty and has been foreclosed by the bank. While realtors, also working for the management company, were showing the unit, they found a leak in the ceilings of the bathroom. They had their people come check and decided it was my unit. I checked and there is no sign of leak or thing that could cause the leak. I went on site with them. We opened the water in my unit and I saw no water coming down. I wrote the condo board and told them the result of the meeting and told them I was not responsible and they must check with 3rd and 4th floor. Now I get a letter telling me I am responsible and I will be charged for all expenses to repair damages. Please help me.

Mister Condo replies:

J.V., this is a most unfortunate situation and precisely why we all need to be prepared to take legal action against our governing bodies if necessary when we live in condominiums. The Board has a duty to protect the damaged unit owner and they are doing so at your expense as an upstairs leak is most generally associated with the unit directly above the damaged unit. Regardless of how the leak was discovered, the Board has claimed that your unit is responsible making you the responsible party for the repair. You seem quite confident that you can demonstrate that you are not responsible so it would appear that a small lawsuit is in order so that both parties can be heard and reach a settlement or get a court ruling. I am not sure who “their people” were who came to look at the damage and determined that it was caused by your unit but they will need to explain their determination if the Board is going to successfully defend against your suit. Additionally, if they have not yet inspected the 3rd or 4th floor units for the source of the leak, they will need to do so because if the leak wasn’t caused by your unit, it very well me the responsibility of one of your upstairs neighbors.

3 thoughts on “Condo Unit Owner Blamed for Mystery Water Leak

  1. The leak may be caused by several items:
    .Pipe condensation above the affected area.
    .Water leaking down a pipe chase from another Unit and not necessarily from the Unit directly above the damaged area. Water will follow the path of least resistance and run along on the pipe chase.
    .Water may be entering the building from a directional rain and following a ceiling joist to the area where the damage is being discovered.

    Just a few thoughts based on my experience as a Property Manager.

    1. My bet is it’s a cracked toilet seal. I will only leak when flushed. In any event hire a professional plumber to give you a written opinion and supply that to the Board.

  2. just because the water comes from a unit above does not make that unit owner responsible. The master policy should be responding to building damage providing it is from a covered cause of loss and the damages exceed the mp deductible. if the damages are under than each unit that sustained damage should file through their own policy. Unless there is gross negligence on the part of that unit owner then you might be able to file a claim for your damages against his liability policy (providing he/she has one)

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