access to neighbor's water heater inside unit I want to buy

4 Replies

I want to buy another condo in a building that I currently own in. The building is older, but well maintained. The unit I want to buy is on the top floor and the owner is willing to sell at a good price. 

You enter the unit on the 2nd floor and it has private stairs leading up to it the 3rd (top) floor. Under those stairs there is a private storage area. Behind the storage is an area for the unit's water heater. 

The issue is that the water heaters for 2 other units in the building (below this unit; not on the same floor) are also located in area behind the storage area of the unit I want to buy. The only access they have to their own water heaters would be to ask me for permission to enter. There is an easement for me to do so in the HOA Declaration. The owners of these 2 units are friendly (I already know them because I already own another unit in the building), but they both have fairly small units and if we move their water heaters to the other side of the wall from the storage unit (into their units), they really do not have anywhere to put them. And they both do not have the money to pay to move them.

I apologize if the logistics of this post are confusing. Basically, I am wondering if anyone knows if I might ever be liable for the other two owners water heaters if they were to leak and flood units below them. 

Just to try to be clearer, currently I am not concerned that their water heaters will leak and flood the unit I want to purchase (they are a floor down from the living space), but that because the only access to their water heaters would be in my unit, that I could some how be responsible insurance-wise or legally.

The seller of the unit represents his mother (who recently went into a nursing home and cannot make her own decisions). He is ready to get rid of the unit and does not want to address the water heater issue. So I either buy it and handle the issue myself or walk away. I don't want to walk away unless it is the only option.

Does anyone have any ideas? If they will not move the water heaters, are there any other options? 

Thanks ahead of time!

@Darren Johnson I would ask your insurance company. If you have homeowner's insurance and someone sues you then the insurance company pays a lawyer to defend you. Likewise - if these other condo owners have insurance and their heater leaks (even though it is located on your property) I would think that their insurance would be liable. I wouldn't stress about it too much since there is an easement. But you could ask the other condo owners to have you named as "additional insured" for that one thing. 

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