water from upstairs damages my coop unit - Who pays?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:49 pm   Post subject: water from upstairs damages my coop unit - Who pays?  

The building I live in has about 100 units, each resident owns shares in the corporation and leases their unit from the corporation.



While I was not in my unit a blockage in a shared drain line ("main line") caused kitchen water from upstairs' units to back into my sink, overflow, and overflow onto my wood floors, ruining them.



The Board of Directors for my cooperative has indicated that I am liable for any and all damage to my floors, cabinets, and any other personal property lost in the overflow.



My perspective is that:

1. It wasn't a blockage that I caused (wasn't present before or during the problem).

2. It wasn't water from my unit (water came from the three units above me).

3. It is a blockage in a shared drain line, well after my drain line ties into the shared line.



I'm not saying who's "fault" it is, just that it isn't mine. Is my Board of Directors hoping I'll just eat it so it doesn't come out of the Coop budget? Or do they have a leg to stand on? Should I carry personal insurance that covers for this kind of thing where there is nothing I could have done to prevent or avoid the problem?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:17 pm   Post subject:   

What I can say, without doubt, is that the only way to know who is liable is to read your contract. This will spell out who is responsible and for what. This type of situation is going to be addressed in that contract and its always different.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:16 am   Post subject:   

I believe the solution lies in the contract that you have signed with the building authority, if it says that you are responsible for the damages caused to your portion then you may not have the opportunity to collect the benefits from the co-op authority's insurance policy.



Thanks,

Carol

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:47 am   Post subject:   

Yes I agree with my fellow posters, you need to re-read the contract paper to find out your share of responsibilities for the damages. However, you may also check out with your condo insurer for the coverage.



As far I understand the condo policy will cover you for the damaged items as well as for the occupied building portion. The condo owner's insurance normally covers the common areas and properties, like- the common ground and the common walkways, and it might or might not cover the damages caused to your portion of the property.



Also it'd be right to check out with the insurance policy of the condominium authority. They may have a coverage against the accidental discharge of common water pipes or sewerage lines.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:28 am   Post subject:   

milandin

Are you saying by this statement

Quote:
Should I carry personal insurance that covers for this kind of thing where there is nothing I could have done to prevent or avoid the problem
That you have NO policy on your home? I'm unclear as to the type, if it's a condo, owned apt or what, but I you do not have any type of 'homeowners' policy you certainly should!



check your contract see what it says, if you do have a policy file a claim...most HO policys clearly lay out what is covered and what is not re: water back up...



Let us know what your contract says and about your own policy...


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:07 pm   Post subject:   

This is a Cooperative, so we own shares in the corporation, and lease the apartment from the corporation. We have a Proprietary Lease that has the following section:



Section 8: Repairs; Maintenance; Redecorating. The Shareholder shall provide and pay for all necessary repairs, maintenance of replacements to the apartment, including, but not limited to repair, maintenance and replacement of the appliances referred to in the preceding paragraph; repairs, maintenance, and replacements necessitated by the Shareholder's use of the apartment, or by Shareholder's negligence or misuse, and redecorating of the apartment. The Cooperative at its expense shall provide for all repairs, maintenance and replacement not covered by the foregoing.



I have gone through this pretty carefully and have an idea of what it means, but I'd like to hear what people think. For argument's sake, the damage did not occur due to any negligence, misuse or normal use by us. It was simply a clogged main line that caused a flood while we were away.



Additionally, there is a "House Rules Checklist" that my fiancee had to sign when she was approved as a tenant. Here is the relevant item:



“It is the responsibility of each resident to insure his/her own personal property.”



Does that imply that we don't need to insure non-personal property? Flooring cannot be lifted up and taken with us when we move out, so it's not "personal" by any stretch, is it?





As a quick update: the Board President wrote us a letter saying the clog was in our drain line under the sink prior to its connection to the main line and that we were negligent in not fixing it sooner and that we are liable for all plumbing costs and costs to repair the unit.



I have photos of when the final plumber came and removed the "T" connecting our drain to the main. There is standing water in the main line, below where we tie into it. I asked the plumber several times in the presence of the Board President (to make sure he understood it): "So why is that water sitting there? Shouldn't it be flowing into the sewer?"



"Yup, there's a big clog in the main line."



So three plumbers, photographs, and simple logic disagree with the President. It's even more outrageous than this. He's quite the little slum lord in training.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:15 pm   Post subject:   

I don't think that is the correct area of the contract. The part you quoted really only addresses maintenance, not what areas of the property you are responsible for (when it comes to damage). If this is the only section to address the issue, I'd say we'd need a definition of "apartment". I usually see contracts written very specifically, such as the inner walls, etc.



I'd think that the contract should also address liability specifically.



Living in condos, townhouses, apartments, etc. is pretty tricky when it comes to who is responsible for what. As, in this case, there are mutual materials that are in use by more then one party. Those mutual parts are also located in different areas.



I think you have done a good job of documenting the problem and you also understand that these 'association' people tend to make up stuff when they really don't have a clue.



I went back and re-read the contract info you posted. I think it may address this situation but only if there is nothing else in the contract. If it can be shown that _you_ caused the problem, then I'd agree that you need to address the situation. If it cannot be _shown_ that you caused the problem then by default I think the Cooperative would need to address the damage. That is, the contract is written with a default and that is that the Cooperative will address any situation _unless_ the items mentioned can be proven.



I'd recommend getting a letter from the plumbing company covering what you were told and submitting this to the Cooperative.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:11 am   Post subject:   

Quote:
Does that imply that we don't need to insure non-personal property? Flooring cannot be lifted up and taken with us when we move out, so it's not "personal" by any stretch, is it
No flooring isn't personal property a rug is but flooring is not...Of course you have to cover your personal property, but most condo type policys cover the 'inside' of the unit....do you not have a policy at all?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 5:29 pm   Post subject:   

stop all the hard work and listen what i would do, i would go starith down to the contractor and talk with law and order to sue him, why will he be giving me unsatisfied housing with the full money ?







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