more of a legal question- neighbors toilet/pipe leaking- he refus

ilmbgJanuary 21, 2011

Hi- This is sort of a 'how do I get the sucker' issue...

I have a winter condo- I live downstairs with one condo upstairs. My neighbor(downstairs) is about 70years old female. For a couple years now, I have suspected that the neighbor above my downstairs neighbor has a leak in his bathroom...I have mentioned to the upstairs guy that I hear a 'drip', 'drip', 'drip' when they take a shower, flush the toilet- run water in the bathroom in general. He says 'it's not from my place' and refuses to talk to either one of us. Now I don't have visible water in my condo,but I can hear it dripping louding- but my next door neighbor has her bathroom ceiling removed in a couple places because they redid her bathroom and the exhaust vent and heat vent has been taken off the ceiling. The guy upstairs who I suspected had a leak now drips water onto my neighbors toilet which is directly below his- yellowish- which is obviously diluted pee/poop leaking from the toilet wax ring. A friend got up on a ladder and looked into the ceiling hole where the exhaust fan was and can see water on the ceiling (between 1st and 2nd floor).He COULD see the water dripping from a pipe and directly from the wax toilet seal. He couldn't see well enough to see where the 'drip','drip','drip' sound was coming from- i assume it is following a rafter and hitting either the ceiling or between the walls.

We have called our homeowners association who say they have nothing to do with it and to call the management co. We have called the mgmnt co SEVERAL times with no return call.

I now know what 'Chinese water torture' makes people go nuts- it is a horrible sound- every 5 to 45 seconds depending on how much water they are using. Yesterday I had to spend the whole day in my bedroom doing 'continuing education credits' so I heard the sound for 11 hours.

Most mornings, again depending on how much water the people upstairs use, the dripping sound wakes me. It is surprising how loud it is.

I am also a severe asthmatic- I am VERY allergic to molds and an on one of the last drugs available for asthmatics.

I have called the police who say they can do nothing. Same with HOA/management co. Both my neighbor and I can't pay to have it fixed then go to Small Claims Court, because even if we won, that doesn't mean they guy will give us our money back- winning a case does nothing to actually being reimbursed. If we put a lein on his condo it won't do anything because he doesn't plan on moving, plus putting out that kind of money is difficult for my neighbor/myself because I am disabled and she is retired.

What would be a way to get this taken care of?? Thanks- sorry for the long post but I wanted to make a clear picture.

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HandyMac

Call the Health bDepartment.

If they don't do anything, call a TV station.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 10:57PM
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texasredhead

Some newspapers have problem solving columns.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:23AM
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homebound

Your neighbor's ceiling work should be paid from the guy's wallet or insurance. Besides, if it's not remedied above, it will continue. Take some pictures and have a lawyer send them to him.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:11AM
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davidro1

Polite persistence pays off.

You elect the people on the board of your homeowners association.
You and everyone.

You pay the management co.
You and everyone.

You own the building.
You and everyone.

As an owner of the building (co-owner, you and everyone), you are responsible for the building. Every part of it.

I'll use the singular here but the plural-collective also applies.

You own the common parts of the building. An individual person does not own a leak if it's from the common parts of the plumbing system.

If there existed no such thing as a " mgmnt co " then you would have a board of co-owners hiring janitors and tradespeople. Many condo buildings operate this way.

Polite persistence pays off.
But, some directness is also necessary.
So what if you feel that you've "called the mgmt co SEVERAL times with no return call. ..." whatever that is supposed to mean...
Just go get them.

Keep the condo association board in the loop too.
Never assume that "everybody" knows what to do.
Until I posted this, nobody had any idea what to post.
Talk about ignorance. (!)
Polite persistence pays off.
But, some directness is also necessary.
You own the problem.
You pay a pro rata share of the cost in your condo fees.

If someone says the problem is the wax seal and thus it's to be paid solely by the one owner whose toilet's wax seal is faulty, fine let them say that but don't change your tune.

Ultimately it may be that he has to pay the bill.
So what?
Just get the problem to be fixed.

Go get them.
Don't call the UN.
Don't appeal for help from journalists.
Don't file papers in the courts.
Go get the only two parties that I named above.
Be persistent.
So what if it requires you to give them a course in the deleterious effects of mold to the respiratory system?
It's hard work.
Hard work is the easy part.

Knowing what to do is the hard part.
Now you know what to do.
You own the building.
Take responsibility for it.
Make the problem into everyone's problem.
Talk, email, post notices, whatever.
Just the facts.
No pointing fingers at individuals.
Mold, building rot, building value.
Fecal matter, bad bad.
Breathing fecal matter.
Breathing moldy air.
Breeding mold inside the walls.
Describe the problem.
Force others to pay attention.
Force a group solution to occur.
If they send the bill to one guy, so what?
All you want is the leak stopped, by a Master Plumber.

Hth

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 2:49PM
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ilmbg

Health dept won't get involved- it is a 'civil matter'.

Code Compliance won't get involved-'it is a civil matter'.

HOA won't get involved- 'we don't get involved- call the management company'.

tv station hasn't returned calls.

We can't afford a lawyer, as they want $10,000 retainer..

Guess we will have to persist, bring the general problem to others attention...

In our condo assoc, if it is a water pipe that serves his condo only, which the wa ter lines go to the building then split off, then he is responsible for the bill. Whatever is in a condo that owner is resposible for... per CC's

Just can't believe there are such @$%&(!! people like that- the 'if it doesn't bother me why should I fix it attitude'. Sigh...

Thanks all..

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 7:36PM
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HandyMac

I never heard of a codes or health department refusing to do their jobs. That certainly would not happen in any of the cities in the Kansas City area!

It sounds like you need to find another city.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 12:40AM
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brickeyee

You do understand that Health Department 'remedies' are often limited to declaring a space uninhabitable?

As in the apartment the leak falls into, not the one it starts in.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 3:10PM
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HandyMac

Maybe where you live.

That would help solve the OP's problem. Management might fix the problem to avoid further problems.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 3:15PM
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brickeyee

"Maybe where you live. "

Tell us what other remedies your health department has.

The usual course is for them to condemn a unit, followed by a civil suit by the owner of the unit seeking a fix from the party causing the problem.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 8:22PM
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sdello

If I follow your OP correctly the offending neighbor's unit is above your elderly neighbor's unit next door. The offending neighbor's plumbing leaks directly on your elderly neighbor's ceiling but you can hear it. The impact to you so far is that you hear it constantly. You have witnessed the leak in the cavity space between the upstairs floor and the ceiling below.

As I understand it, condos by deed are pretty explicit about what the owner is responsible and what is common space (the condo association is responsible for).

Document the leak. (this is the critical task). Then approach the responsible party to repair it immediately. If it's the neighbor's responsibility and he won't do the repairs, I would expect the condo association to repair it and chase the owner for reimbursement. This situation will devalue the whole building if left unattended, thus hurting everyone's property value.

For a case like this if as lawyer wants 10k up front, look for another lawyer.

My 0.02.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 2:59PM
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dianalo

Contact your local AARP. They may have access to a lawyer who will not ask for a retainer and who may do pro bono work. You may also find some retired lawyers who would be willing to write a letter on your behalf.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:49PM
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HandyMac

Here, a problem such as that would be referred to the Building Codes division or Public Safety.

The final pesponse might be condemnation and the resulting difficult procedures. But, something would be done.

We have a couple of TV stations that would have a field day with a problem like that. Publicity of the bad kind sometimes gets the fastest reactions.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:49PM
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sdello

"HOA won't get involved- 'we don't get involved- call the management company'."

Did you call the management company?

Did your neighbor who actually has the leak call them?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 3:49PM
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davidro1

ilmbg last posted on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 so I think this is a lark.
"....HOA won't get involved- 'we don't get involved- call the management company'...."

".... call the management company'...."

Third time:
".... call the management company'...."

Hth

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 11:45PM
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ilmbg

No- this isn't a 'lark'- whatever that means...
I no longer have internet so I am only online if I go to a public wifi- which is not often..
Yes, I did call our management co- the worst in the world I believe- they say because it is not their issue- because it is the upstairs guy's toilet wax ring that is his responsibility to replace. Same for 'his' water line. The mgmnt only repairs 'common' items, which in our cc&r says anything past the patio wall is 'ours', even waterlines/electric/wall studs, etc.
I absolutely agree- Texas- or our individual condo have horrid cc&r's!
Health Dept won't get involved, Code Compliance came out and said it is private property and is 'civil'.
No- unfortunate;y my older neighbor whose ceiling and toilet are getting dripped on hasn't done anything- she is a very educated person who seems disgusted with what is going on, but doesn't 'DO' anything!! Very frustrating to me.
I am trying to do as someone suggested and make other homeowners aware of what is going on. The condos have become 'rentals' and have gone downhill just since I have owned-7 years. I will NEVER own a condo again!!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 11:32AM
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davidro1

OK, got it.

You can get the management company to say to your elected board that because it is a toilet's wax ring, that is his responsibility to replace, and they can also educate your board about the fact that this leak is lowering property values, in general, and that it has to be dealt with.

The mgmnt co maintains and repairs 'common' items. Not someone's wax ring. Unless it is causing damage to "common" areas. The leak passes through a common area before it falls on your neighbor's ceiling, but this is not a strong case to make to justify getting the management company to open a file or make it into an issue they would want to deal with.

RE-defining it somehow will make a few people perk up and take notice. Hint hint. First of all, until they come see they cannot say with certainty that it IS a wax ring problem.

Right now you have 2 avoiders who are the main parties.

When more people are aware of the problem, the one person who is technically suffering the most from this will also come on side. It's inevitable. The elected board will take it seriously too. It's inevitable. Make the description vivid and get awareness going.

Once you have a small number of other voting members aware of this too it is very easy to put your foot down and say "that'll be enough fecal matter in my breathing space."

The upstairs neighbor would also like to know that you would do the same for him too, if he was receiving fecal matter in brown water dropping onto his ceiling. Hint hint. It's reasonable to expect he will acquiesce when he hears from a few more people that he will also benefit from similar pressure if he is the victim one day. Anyone can start by telling him this. YOu could too, if you knew what to say. Hint hint.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 1:00PM
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sdello

if all we're talking about here is a wax seal under a toilet bowl, then I'd r3ecommend that your neighbor next door (and you) call a plumber and pay him to fix the problem. The management company should have a key to let someone in. Then file a claim against the offending neighbor in small claims court for your costs. That way at least the leak would stop. Make sure you bring a camera in when the plumber does the job and document everything. Get a sworn statemtn from the plumber describing the problem and it's effects on the adjacent property.

At best we're talking $150 for a plumber to come in and replace a toilet gasket. At least the waste water will be contained.

Call the Better business bureau on the management company and file a complaint. Bring all your photos and documentation to the condo association. I simply cannot imagine that anyone who is personally connected to this building as an owner, tennant, or building superintendent simply ignoring the problem. good luck.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 2:29PM
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