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Condo Leak

Discussion in 'Condo & Co-op Issues' started by dvrmdc, Mar 25, 2021.

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  1. dvrmdc

    dvrmdc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    I own an upstairs condo (hereafter called "unit") and I was notified by the owner of the downstairs unit that he experienced water damage from my unit. Since our units presumably share the same floorplan the leak was presumably from our water heater. The water to the heater was immediately turned off and a hot water valve was opened. A contractor was called and the water heater was replaced with a new unit. I have no insurance on my unit for several reasons. 1, the HOA does not require it, 2. it wouldn't cover leaks, which are the only thing I would need insurance for. 3. I am disabled and cannot afford it. The owner of the downstairs unit uses his unit as a rental property. He has, to my knowledge, not contacted his insurance or our management company about the damage nor has he taken any pictures of the damage to his unit. He has simply demanded that we take care of it for him. We've tried to notify the management company but they said, basically, your leak, your problem. Davis/Sterling suggests, for all I can gather, that the duty of repair on our part is limited to stopping the leak if it originated from "single interest property" and the duty of repair for the water damage is on the HOA regardless of liability and I believe City of Burbank Statues place the burden of repair on the landlord of the rental property. Most contractors do not want to get involved between the two of us but I managed to get a water damage company to go out and submit an estimate but their estimate only covered demolition to the common ceiling and walls without repair. What should I do?
     
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    In this process, was it confirmed that the hot water heater was the cause of the issue, and did replacing the unit cause the issue to cease to exist?

    Why do you think that?

    Hardly.

    Out of curiosity, is your unit financed (i.e., do you have a mortgage) and, if so, does your mortgage lender know that you aren't carrying condo owner's insurance?

    What are the factual and legal bases for this demand?

    Not sure if we're supposed to know who "Davis/Sterling" is or why he/she/it is providing you with an opinion on this issue. Regardless, the last part of the sentence about "duty of repair" is wrong (unless the CC&Rs have a very unusual provision in this regard).

    Which specific ordinance(s) do you believe say this? If you can't cite specific ordinances, why do you "believe" this to be the case?

    Well...I hope you've saved up a lot of money from not paying for condo owner's insurance to pay the legal bills that may be coming your way. The good news for you is that you may not have any liability for anything other than your own unit repairs unless the downstairs neighbor can prove that the damage resulted from your negligence. If, in fact, the damage was caused by your hot water heater, that would entail proving that you knew or should have known that your hot water heater was in disrepair. If you had condo owner's insurance, it absolutely would cover you, including paying for a lawyer to defend you if you get sued. One possible glitch here is that your condo CC&Rs may make you liable here regardless of any negligence, so I suggest you take some time to review them.
     
  3. dvrmdc

    dvrmdc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    A pinhole leak was found after considerable searching
     
  4. dvrmdc

    dvrmdc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    We were told so by the agent.
     
  5. dvrmdc

    dvrmdc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    No, No mortgages.
     
  6. dvrmdc

    dvrmdc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I've no idea
     
  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Here's the problem with that statement: it's vague. Will a condo owner's policy cover damage to your unit that result from your own hot water heater leaking? I don't know. Will it cover damage to your unit as a result of a leaking roof? I'm not certain, but I believe it will. Will it indemnify you against damages for which you are legally liable because someone else's property was damaged because of your negligence in connection with a leak AND provide payment for legal defense costs. It absolutely will.

    Like most of the folks who post here regularly, I've spent thousands on homeowner's and renter's insurance premiums over the years. Kinda seems like a waste since I don't think I've ever made a claim, but if I do have a claim situation, I'll be damn glad I have it. If your financial situation is such that you can't afford a basic condo owner's policy, you ought to consider selling and renting.

    So...the neighbor just said, "I want you to pay for this," and didn't say why? And you didn't ask? I'm guessing the neighbor thinks you should pay solely because it was your heater, and that's a common misconception about the law. As mentioned above, you're not liable absent a determination that you were negligent (unless your condo CC&Rs say otherwise).

    Also, it would have been better if you had answered all of the questions I asked in a single post.
     
  8. dvrmdc

    dvrmdc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    @zddoodah, we finally did obtain the CC&Rs and everything has been resolved. Since the CC&Rs were written in the early 70s and were never amended the HOA carries "All inclusive" insurance on the commons and the units. All duty of repair and liability rests with them. Interestingly enough they also forbid unit owners from purchasing their own coverage beyond indemnifying chattel. Great, huh? Why wouldn't all condos operate like that?
     
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Good news for you.

    High HOA fees.
     
  10. dvrmdc

    dvrmdc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Aren't all HOA fees high? But seriously, it's less than 10% of the price of a comparable rental.
     
  11. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    There is no objective measure by which this question can be answered intelligently. Nor am I privy to "all HOA fees."
     

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