Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

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jaybee748
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Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by jaybee748 »

Hello,
Few days ago I discovered small water leak from the lamp in the ceiling of my condo bathroom. I contacted the neighbor above and he immediately fixed the leak, there is small visible damage around the lamp and he promised to fix it. Now here is my question, I just completed full renovation of my bathroom few months ago and all the drywall is brand new, is it reasonable for me to require the neighbor to remove the drywall and inspect it for humidity, mold or damage and replace it if required instead of just fixing small visible damage around the lamp?
bluebolt
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by bluebolt »

You might also try contacting your HOA board. Because the damage may be between units, it is likely their responsibility to figure out whose liability it is and how to fix it.
Hebell
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Hebell »

If you are in Florida, the cost of replacing the drywall will fall on your condo association. Doesn't matter who's at fault.

If you found the leak in a timely fashion, and have been living in the unit and maintaining temperature control, then I see absolutely no need whatsoever to be digging behind the light fixture.

(President of large condo association here)
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jaybee748
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by jaybee748 »

Hebell wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:29 am If you are in Florida, the cost of replacing the drywall will fall on your condo association. Doesn't matter who's at fault.

If you found the leak in a timely fashion, and have been living in the unit and maintaining temperature control, then I see absolutely no need whatsoever to be digging behind the light fixture.

(President of large condo association here)
I am in Florida. It was a small leak and it was discovered immediately but my concern is that the water was accumulating above in the ceiling for days or weeks and the drywall is now damaged, so the only way to find out is to open and inspect it. My question is, can I hire my own contractor to do the inspection and bill the association or the neighbor? (the leak was from the toilet above, it was fixed by replacing the wax toilet ring).
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JoeRetire
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by JoeRetire »

jaybee748 wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:53 am
Hebell wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:29 am If you are in Florida, the cost of replacing the drywall will fall on your condo association. Doesn't matter who's at fault.

If you found the leak in a timely fashion, and have been living in the unit and maintaining temperature control, then I see absolutely no need whatsoever to be digging behind the light fixture.

(President of large condo association here)
I am in Florida. It was a small leak and it was discovered immediately but my concern is that the water was accumulating above in the ceiling for days or weeks and the drywall is now damaged, so the only way to find out is to open and inspect it. My question is, can I hire my own contractor to do the inspection and bill the association or the neighbor? (the leak was from the toilet above, it was fixed by replacing the wax toilet ring).
Yuck. If there was enough toilet water such that it dripped down from a light fixture above, I'd have it checked out immediately and worry about who pays for it later.

Have someone remove the light fixture and take a look around in the ceiling.
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BerkeleyChris
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by BerkeleyChris »

OP, you might want to contact your own insurance company (assuming you have insurance) and get a company that specializes in water damage out to assess for moisture in the walls and help with drying. Need to act quickly on the drying part. I don't know how things work in your area, but in mine you have to show gross negligence for a neighbor to be financially liable. If your insurance company will cover, you might politely ask your neighbor to cover the deductible and your out of pocket expenses. I'd recommend keeping communication open and blame free, tell the upstairs neighbor and the HOA what has happened, what you are doing about it, and invite them to come take a look. Good luck.
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wander
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by wander »

jaybee748 wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:17 am Hello,
Few days ago I discovered small water leak from the lamp in the ceiling of my condo bathroom. I contacted the neighbor above and he immediately fixed the leak, there is small visible damage around the lamp and he promised to fix it. Now here is my question, I just completed full renovation of my bathroom few months ago and all the drywall is brand new, is it reasonable for me to require the neighbor to remove the drywall and inspect it for humidity, mold or damage and replace it if required instead of just fixing small visible damage around the lamp?
I think you should have requested the other owner to fix your drywall for you and inspect the mold when the leak happens. His insurance should have covered that.
Hebell
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Hebell »

If you are in florida, your condo association handles the drywall. This is not to say, that if the repair is small and you want to take care of it yourself, that you can't do so. It would certainly save your condo association money.

Other writers are using HOAs, which are different than condo associations or COAs. More different than you might expect.
HomeStretch
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by HomeStretch »

You need to get the drywall replaced, the damaged area checked for mold and moisture, and visual confirmation that your neighbor’s upstairs leak is in fact repaired as soon as possible.

Separately, you need to determine who is responsible for paying the cost of the appropriate remediation - it could be your neighbor, neighbor’s insurer, HOA, your insurer, you.

I would notify my neighbor and the HOA with a copy to my insurer in writing about the damage, the cause, the quoted cost to repair (copy of quote attached), your plan to proceed with the repairs (if you are doing so) and your expectation for reimbursement. Before sending the written notice, I would have a conversation about the issue with each of the 3 recipients.
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Steelersfan
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Steelersfan »

If the leak was from a fixture in the above owner's unit it's his responsibility to fix it. If it's a pipe running between your ceiling and his floor it's the condo association's responsibility to fix.

P.S. I have experience with both situations.
Raraculus
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Raraculus »

Hebell wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:59 pmIf you are in florida, your condo association handles the drywall.
Is there a Florida rule, regulation, or law I could look this up?
UALflyer
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by UALflyer »

wander wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:09 pm
jaybee748 wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:17 am Hello,
Few days ago I discovered small water leak from the lamp in the ceiling of my condo bathroom. I contacted the neighbor above and he immediately fixed the leak, there is small visible damage around the lamp and he promised to fix it. Now here is my question, I just completed full renovation of my bathroom few months ago and all the drywall is brand new, is it reasonable for me to require the neighbor to remove the drywall and inspect it for humidity, mold or damage and replace it if required instead of just fixing small visible damage around the lamp?
I think you should have requested the other owner to fix your drywall for you and inspect the mold when the leak happens. His insurance should have covered that.
Generally, no. In general, liability in these types of cases is based on negligence rather than the origin of the damage. So, if the upstairs neighbor wasn't negligent, the fact that the leak originated from his/her condo would not make him liable or responsible for the resulting damage and each person would just have to take care of his/her own damage. It's exactly the same as what happens when a neighbor's tree falls on your house: if the neighbor wasn't negligent, then you would be responsible for removing the portion of the tree that ends up on your property and fixing the damage to your property.
an_asker
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by an_asker »

Hebell wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:29 am If you are in Florida, the cost of replacing the drywall will fall on your condo association. Doesn't matter who's at fault.

If you found the leak in a timely fashion, and have been living in the unit and maintaining temperature control, then I see absolutely no need whatsoever to be digging behind the light fixture.

(President of large condo association here)
I second this.

Typical rule, per my understanding, is that anything behind the drywall is the HOA's responsibility and anything in front is yours (or your neighbor's). So, if the upstairs owner was negligent, there is a (small) chance that the HOA might assess him for a portion of the repair.
Hebell
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Hebell »

Raraculus wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:33 pm
Hebell wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:59 pmIf you are in florida, your condo association handles the drywall.
Is there a Florida rule, regulation, or law I could look this up?
This is the case for Florida condominium associations per statute 718. Statute 718 does not apply to homeowners associations. Your condo association will not restore wallpaper or faux finishes or any other treatment on top of the drywall. COA's and HOAs are different things in Florida. You can find numerous references to Florida condos and drywall. Trust me, I know about this, because I'm mad as heck about all the bills in our condos over 40 years old.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Florid ... e&ie=UTF-8
Hebell
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Hebell »

And to the previous poster who mentioned recovering costs from the unit owner that did the damage, on the basis of negligence. It is very very hard to prove negligence. I recently had to sign off on $7,000 worth of drywall repairs, when I knew an absentee owner had neglected a toilet leak. Negligence means showing that she knew she had a toilet leak, and disregarded it. Instead she had someone watching her unit, and asserts that the watcher wasn't very good, or that the watcher didn't see it. It is very very difficult to prove negligence, and trust me I have tried.
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Marmot
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Marmot »

We just lived this issue. Call the HOA ASAP and get it formalized. Our unit is in Oregon and it was determined that the leak was from inside the walls between units. 3rd floor leak to first floor. The HOA was responsible for the damage inside the walls. We were responsible for the damage to our unit that was not in the walls. ( floor, kitchen cabinets and so forth). Remediation took 9 months. Our cost was about 15K which was covered by insurance.
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an_asker
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by an_asker »

Hebell wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:28 pm And to the previous poster who mentioned recovering costs from the unit owner that did the damage, on the basis of negligence. It is very very hard to prove negligence. I recently had to sign off on $7,000 worth of drywall repairs, when I knew an absentee owner had neglected a toilet leak. Negligence means showing that she knew she had a toilet leak, and disregarded it. Instead she had someone watching her unit, and asserts that the watcher wasn't very good, or that the watcher didn't see it. It is very very difficult to prove negligence, and trust me I have tried.
I am on the board on my HOA, and if my (hazy) memory serves me right, we have done something similar in the past though I will have to hunt up my emails to see how accurate I was! :oops:
twh
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by twh »

Personally, in a wet climate, I'd check. Little hassle now could prevent massive headache later -- for everyone. In a dry climate, I'd let it go.
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Sandtrap »

Hebell wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:28 pm And to the previous poster who mentioned recovering costs from the unit owner that did the damage, on the basis of negligence. It is very very hard to prove negligence. I recently had to sign off on $7,000 worth of drywall repairs, when I knew an absentee owner had neglected a toilet leak. Negligence means showing that she knew she had a toilet leak, and disregarded it. Instead she had someone watching her unit, and asserts that the watcher wasn't very good, or that the watcher didn't see it. It is very very difficult to prove negligence, and trust me I have tried.
+1
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Mr.RegPark
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by Mr.RegPark »

After owning/ disposing of three Florida condos, the last in 2019, this post reminds me of why I rent.
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wander
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by wander »

UALflyer wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:15 pm
wander wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:09 pm
jaybee748 wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:17 am Hello,
Few days ago I discovered small water leak from the lamp in the ceiling of my condo bathroom. I contacted the neighbor above and he immediately fixed the leak, there is small visible damage around the lamp and he promised to fix it. Now here is my question, I just completed full renovation of my bathroom few months ago and all the drywall is brand new, is it reasonable for me to require the neighbor to remove the drywall and inspect it for humidity, mold or damage and replace it if required instead of just fixing small visible damage around the lamp?
I think you should have requested the other owner to fix your drywall for you and inspect the mold when the leak happens. His insurance should have covered that.
Generally, no. In general, liability in these types of cases is based on negligence rather than the origin of the damage. So, if the upstairs neighbor wasn't negligent, the fact that the leak originated from his/her condo would not make him liable or responsible for the resulting damage and each person would just have to take care of his/her own damage. It's exactly the same as what happens when a neighbor's tree falls on your house: if the neighbor wasn't negligent, then you would be responsible for removing the portion of the tree that ends up on your property and fixing the damage to your property.
Well, only a judge can say yes or no after hearing both sides of the story. If it were me, I would fix my house but I would also consider getting the other owner to pay some of the cost.
UALflyer
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by UALflyer »

wander wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:18 pm
UALflyer wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:15 pm
wander wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:09 pm
jaybee748 wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:17 am Hello,
Few days ago I discovered small water leak from the lamp in the ceiling of my condo bathroom. I contacted the neighbor above and he immediately fixed the leak, there is small visible damage around the lamp and he promised to fix it. Now here is my question, I just completed full renovation of my bathroom few months ago and all the drywall is brand new, is it reasonable for me to require the neighbor to remove the drywall and inspect it for humidity, mold or damage and replace it if required instead of just fixing small visible damage around the lamp?
I think you should have requested the other owner to fix your drywall for you and inspect the mold when the leak happens. His insurance should have covered that.
Generally, no. In general, liability in these types of cases is based on negligence rather than the origin of the damage. So, if the upstairs neighbor wasn't negligent, the fact that the leak originated from his/her condo would not make him liable or responsible for the resulting damage and each person would just have to take care of his/her own damage. It's exactly the same as what happens when a neighbor's tree falls on your house: if the neighbor wasn't negligent, then you would be responsible for removing the portion of the tree that ends up on your property and fixing the damage to your property.
Well, only a judge can say yes or no after hearing both sides of the story. If it were me, I would fix my house but I would also consider getting the other owner to pay some of the cost.
You can consider whatever you want, but legally, the vast majority of these situations are very straightforward. You can obviously allege whatever you want, but unless you have facts that support your claim of negligence, it's a waste of time and money. Once again, in the absence of negligence, which you'd have to prove, the fact that the leak originated from the neighbor's house does not give rise to liability.
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8foot7
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Re: Water leak from the neighbor above in a condo

Post by 8foot7 »

UALflyer wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:07 am
wander wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 6:18 pm
UALflyer wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 2:15 pm
wander wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:09 pm
jaybee748 wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 10:17 am Hello,
Few days ago I discovered small water leak from the lamp in the ceiling of my condo bathroom. I contacted the neighbor above and he immediately fixed the leak, there is small visible damage around the lamp and he promised to fix it. Now here is my question, I just completed full renovation of my bathroom few months ago and all the drywall is brand new, is it reasonable for me to require the neighbor to remove the drywall and inspect it for humidity, mold or damage and replace it if required instead of just fixing small visible damage around the lamp?
I think you should have requested the other owner to fix your drywall for you and inspect the mold when the leak happens. His insurance should have covered that.
Generally, no. In general, liability in these types of cases is based on negligence rather than the origin of the damage. So, if the upstairs neighbor wasn't negligent, the fact that the leak originated from his/her condo would not make him liable or responsible for the resulting damage and each person would just have to take care of his/her own damage. It's exactly the same as what happens when a neighbor's tree falls on your house: if the neighbor wasn't negligent, then you would be responsible for removing the portion of the tree that ends up on your property and fixing the damage to your property.
Well, only a judge can say yes or no after hearing both sides of the story. If it were me, I would fix my house but I would also consider getting the other owner to pay some of the cost.
You can consider whatever you want, but legally, the vast majority of these situations are very straightforward. You can obviously allege whatever you want, but unless you have facts that support your claim of negligence, it's a waste of time and money. Once again, in the absence of negligence, which you'd have to prove, the fact that the leak originated from the neighbor's house does not give rise to liability.
+1, and many lawyers won't bother to take a case like this, and the ones that do will want 5-10k up front unless your strategy is a meanly worded letter followed by crossing your fingers and hoping the neighbor caves. But your neighbor will probably upon receiving your meanly worded letter consult an attorney who will tell your neighbor you have no case and to ignore you.

And if you were to take this to court and lose, which is the probable result as any decent lawyer would tell you, there's a good chance you'd have to pay your neighbors' attorney fees as well mainly because of the nature of the suit (neighbor never was liable, neighbor did nothing wrong, you're a nuisance). Talk about making a 10k situation into a 30-40k situation just by being stubborn.

You could try small claims but that's got a limit of a few thousand bucks and if all you are out is your insurance deductible, there is a considerable quality of life benefit to not having sued your neighbors.

That said, if I am neighbor, I've already asked about the amount you are out of pocket, the coverage situation, and I would probably have offered to cover at least some of it just as a gesture of goodwill.
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