J.N. from San Francisco, California writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have a condo in a 65-unit complex. My building has 5 units and it shares 1 water heater. This water heater started leaking and caused damage to the common area and my unit, including my flooring and kitchen cabinets. The CCRs require me to file with my HO6 insurance first, but it seems that since this water heater is the building’s responsibility and a shared resource, they should be responsible. They refuse to pay for any of the damage. Are there any existing CA/SF laws that require them to take responsibility for the damage they caused? They have a 10K deductible and are not even claiming against their policy.
Mister Condo replies:
J.N., I am sorry that you experienced damage from the association-owned water heater. This is not an uncommon event and is exactly the reason condo owners need to protect themselves with homeowner’s insurance (HO-6). As you have stated, your agreement with the association requires you to maintain insurance and the primary claim for damage inside of your unit needs to be placed against your policy. I understand that this flies in the face of reason seeing as the damage was clearly not caused by your own doing but, for better or for worse, that is exactly how this insurance is meant to work. I am not an attorney nor do I offer any legal advice in this column. I am not aware of any laws that would supersede your condo documents in this matter but you may wish to speak to an attorney for a proper legal opinion. I hope that your insurance covered the majority of the damage and repair expense. All the best!