Pumped Up Over Condo Sump Pump

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N.P. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a 6 unit condo. There are 3 units on the second floor and 3 units on the first floor. I am the middle unit on the first floor and I have a sump pump which services the upstairs neighbor’s pipes which go into the sump pump area in my utility room. The condo management company states that their lawyer has come to the conclusion that it is my responsibility to maintain the sump pump. However, the bylaws state under the maintenance section, for plumbing, the home owner’s responsibility is for “all portions within a unit serving only the unit, including fixtures and appliances attached thereto.” Since the sump pump serves two units, I don’t see how I am responsible. Am I misreading the bylaws? Thank you!

Mister Condo replies:

N.P., I don’t think that you are misreading the bylaws from what you have told me. However, there would appear to be some grey area between the black and white that has allowed for the association to question and even challenge you over the maintenance of the sump pump. There is no doubt that the sump pump is housed in your unit and you would not want the sump pump improperly maintained or malfunctioning. If the association is not going to provide periodic maintenance and now has a legal opinion to back that up, my advice would be to hire your own attorney and investigate your options. If your attorney agrees with you, a lawsuit is likely. If your attorney agrees with their attorney’s interpretation of the bylaws, you might just want to accept that it is in your best interest to keep the sump pump properly working and maintained. Either way, it stinks! (Sorry, no pun intended but I couldn’t help myself!) I am guessing that it is not going to be that expensive to maintain the pump. Also, be sure to replace the pump at the manufacturer’s suggested interval. Just because an old pump is working doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be replaced. Once the life expectancy is reached, it is time for a new pump. Good luck!

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