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.!