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The condo above me had a water leak and I have property damage. Can I file a claim against their insurance?

Saint Louis, MO |

The water leaked from the condo upstairs that is under rennovation. The condo assoc. hired a restoration team to immediately service my property. They had the owner above come shut off the water to the unit. They told me the other unit owner would be billed directly from the restoration company. The restoration company came to do a write up of the remaining repairs needed. They said they had to get the remainig work approved and since have been unable to. The condo assoc is now advising me I need to submit a claim against my insurance. I have had no contact with the owner and have asked the assoc. a number of times for his contact and insurance information which I haven't received. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Attorney Answers 3

  1. You should submit a claim to your own insurer. You should also make a claim against the owner of the upstairs property; demand that the HOA provide that information or go knock on their door. If there is work being done, there might be a permit on file with their name and contact information. They should then submit the claim to their insurance company but it is always possible that you will have to sue.

    Also submit a claim to the contractor doing the work upstairs.

    You should also submit a claim to the HOA. I have been successful in getting condo HOA's to pay for repairs on the grounds that the broken pipes are in the common walls.

    In any event, get good repair estimates on your own, and cocuments the damages with pictures and very good notes.

  2. Our firm recently handled a similar matter in which our client was asked to reimburse the homeowners' association (HOA) $5,000 to cover the deductible on a $30,000+ insurance claim for damages caused by a water leak in the wall of the client's condo. Without going into too much detail, while the client obviously had to pay our fees to handle the matter, we were able to help her avoid paying a single penny out of pocket to cover the deductible.

    Your situation is slightly different, based on the fact that it doesn't APPEAR that you should have any liability. However, I've seen screwier things in an HOA's bylaws, which define liability in instances like these. You always have the option of having an attorney, like myself, review the bylaws, make a couple phone calls, maybe send a letter, etc. to handle this matter. In general, it's advisable to do so, but you can always handle it yourself. As you're finding out, though, it's tough to get much done in a dispute like this without an attorney.

    Good luck to you.

    John M. Eccher

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  3. If you are certain the damage was caused by the neighbor's pipes or overflow, send the neighbor a certified letter asserting your claim and directing them to turn this in to their insurance carrier. If they have any sense they will. It's better to have an attorney send that letter. Otherwise, you could have your homeowner's insurance cover it and let them go after the neighbor.

    However, it's also possible the source of the damage is some defect in the common area water system serving the building itself and the property as a whole. In that case, you make that claim against the condominium association.

    This comment does not create an attorney-client relationship. The law and its application by the courts is constantly evolving and changing. This discussion is not to be taken as a definitive guide, and should not be relied upon to determine all fact situations. Each set of facts must be examined separately with the current case and statutory law analyzed and applied accordingly.