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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 27645
Experience:  JA Mentor
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I live in South Carolina, and own a small condo.

Customer Question

Hi guys,I live in South Carolina, and own a small condo. Unfortunately my condo insurance lapsed when I got a new credit card, and I did not pay close enough attention to it, so at the time of damage to my condo, I had NO insurance.I had a company that specializes in these types of disasters come out to clean up the water, dry it out, etc. Upon receiving the estimate for all of the fixes required - the damages came out to above $10,000 USD.Now, my HOA said its not their responsibility since it was a toilet that flooded me out (3rd time a leak from the same spot), and it was a dispute because homeowners.Is there anything I can do to have these costs covered by the upstairs tenants/owner? The above unit had less than $1000 in damages, while im stuck with a $10k+ bill for their negligence. The toilet which caused the flooded was known to be defective by them, and it was still used before the tenants left the house.I have to pay the estimate, as I need my home fixed (its been 2 weeks already). Is there really anything I can do? Would an attorney take my case, and help me get my money back?If so, can anyone point me in the direction of the type of attorney I need? Any advice at all is appreciated, as there is no way I can afford this type of work and it not cause a significant impact on my life for the worse.Thanks!!
Submitted: 19 days ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 19 days ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

Your neighbor is responsible if their leaky toilet flooded your property. You can sue them, and their insurance company should pay for it. If they don't have insurance, you can get a judgment against your neighbor. But you're absolutely right that you shouldn't be stuck with a $10,000 bill because they didn't want to fix their toilet.

Property damage cases are typically tried by torts lawyers. The problem is, most lawyers will only take these types of cases if there was personal injury, because their fee is a percentage of the recovery. The standard fee is 33% - and even if you're willing to give up that much money to bring the lawsuit, many lawyers won't take it, because the fee isn't enough to offset the amount of work involved in going to trial. I'm not trying to discourage you - just letting you know that many people in your situation benefit from filing the case on their own. You're not required to have a lawyer. If there's a law library in your area, the librarians can help you find books to draft the Complaint. Sites like www.uslegalforms.com or www.legalzoom.com may also be able to help.

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Could you offer a best approach to getting my neighbor to pay for it? I assume I would have to contact the condo OWNER, and not tenants right?I have called the owner a few times, and am waiting to hear a call back - so its not looking promising. But if he does call back, what can I ask? Do I say I have $x.xx amount of damages, and would like him to file it against his insurance?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 19 days ago.

Yes, it's the owner who is responsible - although he can choose to go after his tenants if they caused the problem. That's not your concern. If you're really unsure who should've fixed the toilet, you're free to sue both and let the judge figure it out.

It may help to start by asking who his insurance company is, then see if he'll give you the policy number. That way, you can file the claim with his insurance directly instead of waiting on him to do it. If that doesn't work, you could try a letter via certified mail, requesting the same information - one to the unit above you, and one to the owner, if he doesn't live there.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 19 days ago.

It is possible that you could find a local attorney to send a demand letter for a couple hundred dollars. That might also be worth looking into. But it's not required before you file the lawsuit.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 19 days ago.

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Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 15 days ago.

Do you have any other questions about this?