Condo--Who pays for a leak and repairs?

3 Replies

I own a 2nd floor condo, which I rent to a tenant. There is a nice neighbor woman downstairs with the identical unit. When I bought my unit, her bathroom ceiling was literally caving in because the previous owners foreclosed and never fixed the problem. When I purchased the unit, I had the room completely gutted and a new bathroom installed. She was then finally able to repair her bathroom (after two years!).  

Yesterday she called me because there is a new leak, which she believes is coming from my bathroom. There is no sign of anything wrong in my tenant's bathroom, but something was obviously leaking in the wall.

Downstairs neighbor called a plumber, and he of course had to cut a hole in her ceiling to get to the pipe. She says the plumber may also have to open part of her wall.  The plumber has also suggested remediation, i.e. hiring a company to dry things out in order to prevent mold. Then there's repairing the wall, painting, etc. 

My question--who is responsible for the cost of these repairs?  I have zero knowledge of construction, I don't know if leaks in a ceiling automatically come from pipes for upstairs.  Am I as the upstairs owner responsible?  Or, is it a 50/50 split? 

She's a lovely neighbor, and I want to do the right thing. I just want opinions on what exactly is the right thing.

You will have to read through the governing documents of your HOA. that will outline where common property ends and where your property begin. if the pipe that is leaking only services your unit, it may be your property. In that situation, its likely you have to pay for it.

@Andrew B. makes a good point about the governing docs.  Also, you should speak with the neighbor regarding her insurance, and also take a close look at your own insurance policy.

There are normally only two types of leaks in the scenario you describe:  a supply line leak or a waste line leak.  It needs to be determined if the leak is continuous or intermittent, ie; it only happens when the toilet is flushed, or only when the shower is running, etc.  Ask your neighbor about the timing of the leak(s) and perhaps get her to keep a log until the plumber gets up in there to have a better look.

It's also possible that your tenant is letting a sink or shower overflow onto the flooring, so be sure to check your grouting/caulking in the bathroom.  

The leak was happening all the time.  They could hear a hissing sound in the wall.  I was told that when they turned off the main water supply to my unit, then the hissing sound stopped. So it seems as though the pipe was servicing my unit.  

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