Question of Leaking Condo Basement Responsibility

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T.M. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

One of our residents has lived in his unit for approximately 2 years. The unit is 8 years old. Within the last 6 months, the owner has had an issue with roughly an inch of water in the basement. He never had an issue before that. Then, just last week, he had roughly 3 inches of water in his basement. The water was pumped out. The owner had a contractor come out who said that the perimeter of the basement must have the concrete jack hammered out for a foot then excavation must be done and pea stone and drainage pipe put in going to a sump pump which must be installed. The cost quoted is $5,800. The homeowner is asking the association to pay. I feel that this is something the homeowner should address. There is a possibility that the prior owner knew of the problem, however, it was not disclosed if this is true and can be proven. Someone is suggesting that the homeowner can take legal action against the prior owner. I would very much appreciate your opinion regarding this matter since I don’t know who else to consult.

Mister Condo replies:

T.M., the answer lies within your governing documents. Who owns the foundation? If it is the association’s responsibility and it has failed, then the association should pay for the work. If it is the unit owner’s responsibility, then the association is off the hook for the repair. If the previous unit owner knew about the issue and did not disclose it, that is unfortunate. However, the new unit owner claims the problem began only six months ago so how can the previous unit owner be on the hook for that? Had the water been there when the unit was purchased and the basement is the responsibility of the unit owner, the current owner might have a case against the previous owner but I doubt it after all this time. If the unit owner does decide to take action against the previous unit owner, it really isn’t any business of the current association. The association only needs to be concerned with whether or not the basement is their responsibility. If so, they should fix it. If not, they should not give the matter further consideration. If they are unsure, they get a legal opinion from the association’s attorney. All the best!

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