damage caused by water from unit above

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damage caused by water from unit above

Water from the condo above caused water damage to the ceiling in my unit. I have sent a letter to the owner of the unit above requesting the amount the insurance adjuster said it would cost to fix the ceiling. Since then I have sold the unit. Can I file in small claims court requesting the money since I no longer own the unit? I owned the unit at the time of the damage. Can I file on behalf of the new owner?

Asked on April 27, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You don't file for the new owner--if the new owner suffers any losses or costs, he has to take action about them himself. What you can do is file a lawsuit for any costs or losses *you* incurred: e.g. if had to pay out-of-pocket (you can only sue for out-of-pocket amounts, not anything which had been paid by insurance) to repair, or if you did not repair but had to give the buyer some credit for the damage. If you can prove that the damage occured due to the fault of the upstairs owners and can prove the extent of your costs of losses, you can recover compensation in a lawsuit. The key is fault: the upstairs owner is only liable or financially resposible if he caused the damage in some way, such as turning on the bathtub then walking away and letting it overflow; flushing things he should not flush down the toilet, causing a back-up and flood; not fixing a known leak within a reasonable time, allowing water to build up and cause damage; etc. If he was not at fault--e.g. if there was a leak in a pipe without him causing it or failing to take reasonable action once he became aware of it--or if you cannot prove fault (the person suing has the "burden of proof" or obligation to prove fault) he is *not* liable. Liability in cases like this always depends on fault. 
 
Small claims court, as your own attorney ("pro se") is likely a very cost effective way to seek compensation.


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