How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask TexLaw Your Own Question

TexLaw
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4164
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
17219180
Type Your Legal Question Here...
TexLaw is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

We had a water spillage in our toilet which leaked through

Resolved Question:

We had a water spillage in our toilet which leaked through the ceiling of our neighbor living below us. As soon as the neighbor saw it and came to us to report, we went downstairs to see the damage, and offered to repair the damage. However, he elected to go to the Condo owners association. The association made the repairs without checking with us, and then sent us a bill which seemed to be pretty high. I have the following questions:
1. Does the association have any responsibility to share in the cost?
2. Shouldn't the floor be able to withstand some accidental water spillage on the floor? Such spillage should be fairly common in any household.
3. The condo units were built more than 30 years ago. We moved in about three years ago. It is likely such water spillage had occurred in the past. The floor is most likely to have been compromised. Should the association repair or replace the floor?
4. What is "floor" to us living upstairs is "ceiling" to the neighbor. Shouldn't the association have some responsibility to maintain the integrity of the floor and ceiling, especially, when is very old and compromised?
5. What are chances to win this if we don’t pay, and they sue us?
6. The association is charging a late fee every month for the repair cost we are contesting. Shall we pay them everything including the late fees.? Do we then have grounds to sue them later to recover the money?
I will appreciate your help.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

I will address your questions one at a time:

1.Does the association have any responsibility to share in the cost?

Answer: Generally, the association will bear responsibility for costs associated with common areas and with the exterior of the condos (from the outside of the studs in the wall out). However, when an owner causes damage (even though accidentally), the association may hold the owner responsible for the costs of that damage to a common element of the condominiums. Thus, in this particular circumstance, even though the toilet over-flow was accidental, the owner will bear the responsibility as it came from within the owner's condo. The association does not have any responsibility for the costs here.

2. Shouldn't the floor be able to withstand some accidental water spillage on the floor? Such spillage should be fairly common in any household.

Answer: This really depends on the type of flooring you have and how much water was actually spilt. It's hard for me to answer this question given that it is fact specific. However, it relates to whether there is potential for a warranty claim against the builder. Being that most construction warranties do not last longer than a year or two, it is unlikely that you would be able to make such a claim.

3.The condo units were built more than 30 years ago. We moved in about three years ago. It is likely such water spillage had occurred in the past. The floor is most likely to have been compromised. Should the association repair or replace the floor?

Answer: If the damage was pre-existing to your purchase, then you would have needed to identify it prior to the closing of the purchase. Otherwise, you likely are excluded from making a claim against the association for such repair under your real estate purchase agreement, with generally include "as is" clauses. Further, even assuming that such a claim could be made, it would be very difficult to establish that there was pre-existing damage which was what was repaired by the association and for which you are billed. First of all, the damage is repaired, thus the wood has been replaced, etc. How would anyone be able to determine at this point whether the damage was pre-existing. Unfortunately, I do not think you would be able to produce any legal evidence that there was pre-existing damage to support your claim.

4. What is "floor" to us living upstairs is "ceiling" to the neighbor. Shouldn't the association have some responsibility to maintain the integrity of the floor and ceiling, especially, when is very old and compromised?

Answer: Generally, in a condominium which has units separated by floors, the association will be responsible for the actual structure separating the units. If the damage to the structure of the floors was caused by an element for which the association is responsible (such as water seepage from the outside, leaks in the shared plumbing, wood rot, etc.) then the association would be responsible for repair. However, in this case, the only identifiable cause of the water damage is the over-flow from the toilet.

5. What are chances to win this if we don’t pay, and they sue us?
I cannot answer a question like this in any sort of certain manner, as my opinion would require a more thorough review of the facts and an inspection of the property with a qualified damage appraiser. However, just from what you are saying, I don't think you have a very good chance of winning.


Overall, I'm understanding that you are claiming that the scope of damage that was repaired could not have possibly been caused by the overflow from your toilet. You can dispute the amount due, but I think you will have a very difficult time supporting your dispute, as it sounds like the repairs have already been completed and there is no way to go back in and look to see what was the cause. You possibly have the defense that the association violated a good faith duty to you to let you inspect the damage to agree on the scope before charging you the amount charged. However, this will depend on what your condominium agreement states.

6. The association is charging a late fee every month for the repair cost we are contesting. Shall we pay them everything including the late fees.? Do we then have grounds to sue them later to recover the money?

Answer: Whether the association is allowed to charge a late fee for contested repair charges depends on whether it is authorized to do so by the condominium agreement. If the agreement does not authorize the association, you could pay, then sue to recover, or you could withhold and state that the charges are unauthorized.

My recommendation is to take any photographs you took of the damage along with your condominium agreement and make an appointment to see a local attorney for a more thorough review. It doesn't hurt to be completely thorough on this, especially if you are talking about a large amount of money in repair bills. Good luck.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
We did not take any pictures.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 3 years ago.
Without any evidence other than your testimony describing how much water had leaked, there really is not a strong basis to defend against. However, you could have a construction expert review the bill they provided you and provide an opinion on whether the repaired items are related to possible water damage. The problem would that it would likely be very expensive to do so, as you would have to retain an attorney (likely at around $8,000) who would then have to hire the expert. You would spend the money defending the case, but then your likelihood of success would be very low. You could try submitting the bill as a claim on your homeowners insurance, which would likely cover liability like this.
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4164
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
TexLaw and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The Association has threatened to serve lien on our condo, if we do not pay immediately. The value of the condo now is at about 60% of the mortgage balance, and we do not envision selling the condo in future. What happens if we do not pay the Association?

Thank you.

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    19941
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FL/FLAandNYLawyer/2012-1-27_14349_3Fotolia25855429M.64x64.jpg FiveStarLaw's Avatar

    FiveStarLaw

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    8189
    25 years of experience helping people like you.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/jespoag/2008-12-17_222355_jessepic.jpg JPEsq's Avatar

    JPEsq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    2132
    Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/gsenmartin/2008-04-22_214950_me1.jpg Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.'s Avatar

    Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    110
    7+ years of experience handling various legal matters.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PA/PaulmoJD/2013-10-10_195858_JAImage.64x64.jpg Law Educator, Esq.'s Avatar

    Law Educator, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    31621
    JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    15975
    Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.