Is the owner of a leaking dishwasher strictly liable for damages to another unit?

I have a condo and I have suffered water and mold damage because of a leaking dishwasher from the unit directly above me. She does not have insurance, but has told me she is not liable because there was not negligence. Would her liability fall under strict liability?

Asked on June 27, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is no strict liability here, but there is negligence.  Every person has a duty to act like a reasonably prudent person in everything they do.  That includes the maintenance of household appliances so that they don't cause damage.  She failed to maintain the dishwasher and that failure proximately caused damage to your property.  She was negligent.  If you had a leaky hose and didn't know about it, but could have if you had inspected it, then it leaked...just because you didn't know is no defense.  If that was a defense, no one would ever inspect anything.

Tell her she's negligent.  Take pictures and document everything that is going on.  I can't believe she doesn't have insurance because HOA's for condos usually have group policies or require that every condo owner show proof of insurance.  Get the condo association involved and sue her for negligence if she doesn't pay.  You can probably get it done in small claims court without a lawyer. 

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