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Negligent Condo Owner Allows Burst Pipe to Damage Two Units; Who Pays?


A.L. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

A condo owner was negligent in that he had his unit vacant for the last 4 months and a water pipe in the bathroom burst causing damage to his unit and the unit next to his. He says association is responsible for repairs. Is that true?

Mister Condo replies:

A.L., the short answer is “it depends”. Negligent behavior is not always as simple as applying common sense to the situation like you and I would think. Negligent behavior with regards to condo upkeep and appropriate amount of care that must be provided to an individual unit is often a matter of what the condo documents state as appropriate and what constitutes negligence. If your condo rules and regulations do not address minimum maintenance standards such as what temperature a unit must be kept at or how often washing machine hoses must be changed to prevent burst pipes and other water damage, the battle for who will pay for the repair may take some time to sort out and even lead to a lawsuit where the association sues the unit owner and/or vice versa. This mess gets even trickier when insurance companies get involved. Needless to say, claims for damages that could have been easily prevented are a burden on the system and create higher premiums for associations.

3 thoughts on “Negligent Condo Owner Allows Burst Pipe to Damage Two Units; Who Pays?”

  1. Our insurance agency just set up a similar claim for one of our client associations. The Unit Owner is clearly negligent and has admitted fault. However, as Bob notes, how insurance responds (or does not respond) is dictated by the governing documents and State statute. In this specific case, our client association’s insurance is likely going to be on the hook for the entire value of the loss. This wasn’t a surprise to the client though – since we sponsored the association’s attorney to interpret the governing documents shortly after we took over the insurance responsibility. While the loss will still be painful, everyone knew where their places were before the claim even occurred.

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