Leaking bathroom-who's responsible?

kitty11October 23, 2011

I live in a co-op, and my next door neighbors also own the apartment directly under ours. About 6 weeks ago, they approached my husband, and said that our bathroom was leaking, and causing damage to their apartment below. Unfortunately, my husband did let them and a maintanence worker into the apartment. We immediately recaulked it, and didn't hear anything else. A couple weeks later, they gave us a bill for the repairs to their apartment. $750 to repaint....trust me, these are small bathrooms! We have contacted our insurance company, and they are investigating. But, how can they actually prove that it is from our bathtub vs a leaking pipe in the wall? We have no damage to our bathroom floor, which I assume we would if the leak was because of our poor grout? And, are we responsible for their apartment? I have been reading about "negligence law" and if we fixed the problem as soon as we were notified, is it still our fault? Thanks in advance.

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You need to check your co-op bylaws and rules. There's usually something there about who is responsible for what with leaks--depending on where the leak is, the co-op could be responsible or the owner of the unit.

The thing to know about water damage is that water runs along the path of least resistance. It also runs downhill. Frequently the first sign of trouble with bathroom plumbing is on the ceiling of the room below the bathroom. So it's not impossible that you had a leak that you never saw, and that the ceiling below your bathroom was damaged and needed to be repaired and repainted. If the leak was long-term, there may have been mold that needed to be treated.

You need to get a neutral inspector in there to determine exactly where the leak is. Then you need to check the rules of the co-op and the laws of your state--those laws vary from state to state, so you need to seek guidance from someone familiar with your state's laws.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 11:15AM
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I've always HEARD that you're not responsible to pay until you've been found to be responsible...that might even include them going to court. Not sure how that works in a co-op, however....don't you all just own shares in the entire building, unlike in a condominium where you own a particular unit?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 11:33PM
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