Who is liable for a leaking bathroom ceiling in a condo?

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Who is liable for a leaking bathroom ceiling in a condo?

My bathroom ceiling is leaking coming from above bathroom. Condo management will not do

building inspection. Owner above is not cooperative. My own insurance covers only appliances. I already sent notification by letter by above owner refuse to sign copy receipt. She also refuse to receive certified mail. I emailed her. What should I do next?

Asked on April 16, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If someone is at fault in causing the leak, that person  or entity is likely liable. Fault means acting negligently, or unreasonably carelessly; or else doing a deliberate act which damages another's property. So if the upstairs neighbor has a leak in her tub or toilet which she won't fix even though she knows of the leak, she could be liable for all damage it causes. Or if the problem is that there is a roof leak and the water is traveling down to your unit, and the roof is the HOA's or building's responsibility to maintain, then the HOA or building may be liable. (But if no one is at fault--e.g. a pipe in a wall leaked without anyone having done anything wrong or had any warning about maintenance issues or the need to repair it, then no one is liable and you'll have to bear an non-insured costs out of pocket.)
If there is an at fault party and they do not pay voluntarily, you will need to sue them for the money. They--including your neighbor is, as is likely, she is liable--cannot ignore a lawsuit; if they, they will lose by default (like forfeiting a ballgame by not showing up) and you will get a judgment in your favor.


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