What to do about a leaky rood in a duplex?

I have a single sided house which one side is attached to another house. So the roof is also attached. A year ago, the roof in the middle of both houses was leaking on my side. I called up a roofer to fix it. This roofer doesn’t seen so professional, he came over multiple times to finally stopped leak, and costed me a lot of money. Now because of the storm days ago, my neighbor’s side started leaking. He came over to me and told me that because of what I did to the roof causing this to happen. I have no idea what’s happening; I never went up to the roof before. I called that roofer again and he’s telling me that there is no way he made a mistake on it. Right now I am really stressed. Am I responsible for the leaking?

Asked on September 14, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York


Mark Siegel / Law Office of Mark A. Siegel

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Generally, where adjacent properties share certain structures or share common areas, the adjacent property owners are jointly responsible for the maintenance & repair of the shared structures & common areas.

A roof repair is generally considered to be structural in nature. If it can be proven (by satisfactory expert evidence from a roofing contractor, or a structural engineer) that one property owner's actions or neglect caused the condition, it may be possible to seek appropriate relief in court. However, the cost of the repair & the amount of any consequential damage resulting from the condition must be weighed, to decide whether the expense & time involved in maintaining a lawsuit makes financial sense as a practical matter.  

If the roofing contractor was negligent (as determined by the court) in repairing the roof & there's a judicial finding that it caused the leak & damage, the roofing contractor may be liable for damages. If the roofing contractor is insured, it may be possible to file a claim with the insurance company.  

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