J.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
There is a sump pump in the basement of my condo that services 2 other condo units. I am responsible to maintain it. If the pump has been maintained and should fail at any time and flooding results, am I liable for any resulting damages or is the Condo Corporation liable to cover costs?
Mister Condo replies:
J.B., the answer very likely lies in either your deed or your condo association governing documents. If you are uncomfortable reviewing either, may I suggest you consult with an attorney who can give you a clear and legal opinion? Generally speaking, if the association is the owner of the sump pump (likely the case) then their insurance is the one that should get tapped if there is a water intrusion event due to the sump pump malfunction. If the sump pump can only be accessed through your unit (also, likely the case) then you may be required to maintain the pump or allow access to an association-hired contractor who will maintain the pump.
In a perfect world, the sump pump would be housed in a utility room that the association could access as needed for maintenance. That doesn’t sound like the case here and should the pump fail and the association claim that you denied them access to the pump or failed to properly maintain the pump as agreed, you could find yourself playing defense against the association or even your neighbors if their units were effected by the pump failure.
My advice is to keep a journal and receipts that detail the sump pump maintenance. Also, I would request that the association regularly replace the sump pump. If the manufacturer suggests the product has a three-year warranty, then it should be replaced very three years – even though the product may last much longer. This is about limiting liability as much as it is about keeping the units dry. Best wishes, J.B.!
4 thoughts on “Condo Sump Pump Maintenance and Liability”
we are 3 condo sharing our parking. At P4 level of our garage each building got a sump pump. One of the sump pump fail and cause great damage to one building elevator electrical parts incurring 12k repair. Should these be share. Our pump are share under 1 service company.
P., typically, the repair would be the responsibility for the association. Like any expense incurred by the association, it is paid for out of the common fund, which is funded according to the percentage of ownership formula used to determine common fees. Unless there are other circumstances not described here or the parking garage is owned in some other manner. All the best!
My condo has 41 units but only one, mine, is in the basement. From 1983 when condo established it was considered a common expense and I paid for electric and maintenance if there was negligence, but the HOA paid for replacement when needed, typically every 10 years. This year the pump had to be replaced (old age) and the Board informed me that it would be my responsibility because it only services my unit.
It is in the Common Area and there is ca. 10 feet of pipe between my unit and the pump.
Is it legal for the condo to change the responsibility after all this time? No changes were made to my deed or Enabling Declaration to indicate my unit is responsible.
S.W., it is my opinion that the Board has misinterpreted the responsibility for the sump pump. That being said, you may need to challenge them in court and at your expense to get them to do the right thing. Your unit is at risk of flooding if the pump I snot maintained properly. Consult with an attorney to see what legal recourse you have but do make sure the pump is maintained and functioning properly until the matter is resolved. You don’t want to get flooded while the matter is decided. All the best!