Who is responsible for what in a condo water leak situation
September 15, 2015 6:24 PM   Subscribe

My refrigerator has been leaking water for weeks to months now. Water damage to my downstairs neighbor's ceiling. Who is responsible for what?

I'm a condo owner on the second floor. Tenants below me reported intermittent water leakage, small amount, from their ceiling to their landlord, and me. A week passed in between the initial incident and then the second incident, when the landlord downstairs called someone to take a look. I was out of town at the time, so I couldn't let the contractor into my unit to inspect. A few weeks pass and then the problem got much worse, so we finally had someone come to both units yesterday, and again today. They opened up a hole in the ceiling, determined the leak was from somewhere in my unit, and when we pulled out the fridge, saw that it was the source of the leak.

So, am I essentially on the hook for everyone's repairs? Does the HOA have any responsibility in this? The other owner?

Additional info: our HOA insurance actually includes walls-in insurance for all the units. This is a new policy, purchased just before I took posession, and the other owners have their own separate (partially redundant) condo insurance. I do not. The building policy has a $5000 deductible, and I'm guessing it will be less than $5000 worth of work.

I have a home warranty that will repair/replace the fridge, but does not cover secondary damages.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I had a similar issue. In our case, we were responsible and our condo insurance covered it.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:28 PM on September 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Should mention that I'm in NYC, and in our case, the building wide policy definitely didn't cover it.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:29 PM on September 15, 2015


Given the amount of time that the leak has been going on, there is a possibility that mold removal will have to be done and that can be fairly expensive because it's hazmat team work.
posted by bz at 7:06 PM on September 15, 2015


Or, to say it better, I'd make sure it is inspected for mold and if there is any that the removal be done by a certified mold removal contractor.
posted by bz at 7:07 PM on September 15, 2015


Sorry, but I think you are on the hook. I'm in a condo in New Jersey, and I had to foot the bill when the water pipe to my fridge's ice maker burst & leaked into my downstairs neighbor's ceiling. (I figured I was due though, since previously my upstairs neighbors had to pay when their bathroom renovations caused leaks into my bathroom ceiling.) Our condo association would only pay for things like a leak caused by the washing machines in the common areas, structural issues with the roof, etc.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:20 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


All you.
But your homeowners insurance may cover it/chip in - check your policy.
posted by susiswimmer at 7:37 PM on September 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a condo owner and a trustee of the association. We've had similar things happen in our building. It's entirely on you.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:52 AM on September 16, 2015


IANAInsurer but I'm a condo owner and have been on a condo board. If you have walls-in insurance, you need to look at the HOA's policy and the declarations very closely. (Folks who are saying the poster is on the hook, look up "HO-6 insurance policy.") Walls-in usually covers fixtures and equipment, but because yours has such a high deductible, you might be on the hook for paying up to the deductible as an individual owner. Every HOA policy I've seen personally - which is more than ten but less than 50 so I'm not an expert - specifically notes that owners are responsible for the amount up to the deductible if the problem originated in their unit.

Now you see why people with their own condo insurance on top of the walls-in have it? It's not redundant. You can get a cheap low-deductible policy and cover yourself so you don't have to take a multi-thousand-dollar hit. I'm surprised your HOA doesn't require it.

Since your policy is new and it's walls-in, ask your HOA president if the insurer has a 1-800 number for questions, and give them an anonymous call. Most will talk to you to figure out if the insurance will cover it or not, but either way, you're probably on the hook for the repair up to the $5000 deductible limit. If there is mold, it's likely you'll hit that limit when taking into account mold remediation.
posted by juniperesque at 6:13 AM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the HOA policy (or master policy) is "bare walls in" then only the real property will be covered. This will most likely be just what makes the building structurally sound: any improvements, including interior walls, flooring, fixtures, etc. are not covered.
If the master policy is "walls in" then those things will be covered, but personal property (like pictures on the walls) will not.
If it is a "walls in" policy, either the condo fees are sky high to cover it and OP would likely be therefore aware of the coverage or the deductible is sky high and OP will be on the hook for that.
HO-6 are not master policies, they are the gap policies typically purchased by individual unit owners to cover either uncovered damage on a "bare walls-in" or uncovered deductible on a "walls in".
posted by susiswimmer at 11:13 AM on September 16, 2015


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