What to do if my central AC unit was leaking water to the unit below so I shut it off and scheduled the repairs, however the unit owner below would not let anyone in to investigate?

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What to do if my central AC unit was leaking water to the unit below so I shut it off and scheduled the repairs, however the unit owner below would not let anyone in to investigate?

I advised her that the leak must be fixed first; she refused, delaying the repairs. The HOA articles state, “Each unit owner and the executive board waive and release any and all claims against any other unit owner for damage to common elements, units, to the extent that such damage is covered by fire or other form of hazard insurance”. Unfortunately I let my homeowner’s lapse and her insurance has contacted me requesting payment. Am I liable for damages?

Asked on July 7, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You are liable for the damage caused if at fault--for example, if the leak occured because you did not regularly or properly maintain the unit, or if you unreasonably delayed repairs. You are not liable to the extent that you are not at fault, or someone else (e.g. the unit owner who delayed repairs, IF it was reasonable for repairs to be delayed pending the investigation) was at fault. Of course, even if you believe you were not at fault, that can be difficult to prove sometimes in the face of evidence (e.g. it was your unit, under your control) which, on the face of it, suggests that you bear at least some fault in what happened; it is also impossible to prevent someone from at least filing a lawsuit against you, if they are determined to do so, and forcing you to spend time and money defending the suit. If the HOA or the unit owner downstairs seeks compensation from you, depending on how much they are seeking, it may be in your interest to try to settle the case and pay something mutually agreeable reasonable rather than go through litigation.


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