Who is responsible for damage to a unit caused by an adjacentforeclosed property?

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Who is responsible for damage to a unit caused by an adjacentforeclosed property?

My townhouse flooded due to an adjoining foreclosed townhouse not being properly winterized (its pipes burst). My wood floors, cabinets and walls (sheet rock) need to be replaced. If I had nothing to do with the pipes bursting, who would be liable for paying for the damage to my unit? It’s been -10 degrees this week. My association says that they will pay for new sheet rock, that’s it. Doesn’t seem right? I’m a single mom who lives paycheck to paycheck, and Ican’t afford a hefty bill (I did not have a HO6 policy- which I now know I should have.)

Asked on December 16, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Whomever owns the property next door is legally liable for damage to other properties caused by negligence in maintaining it. If the foreclosure has in fact gone through, that owner will be either (1) the bank or other lender which foreclosed on the mortgage (or the government, if it was a tax foreclosure), or (2) whomever bought it in foreclosure auction, if the sale's been held. The best case for you would be (1), since those are deep-pocketed entities. If foreclosure is just "in the works" but the property has not yet been foreclosed upon, then the homeowner--the one who's being foreclosed on--would still be the owner, which would be bad for you--that's the person least likely to actually have the money to pay for damages. You should speak with an attorney about initiating a lawsuit against the responsible parties.


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