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Debra, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 99987
Experience:  Lawyer
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I am asking a question on behalf of my wife. She

Customer Question

I am asking a question on behalf of my wife. She currently lives in a condominium she bought approx. 7 years ago. October 2015 she received a letter from her Strata board that there was a plumbing leak in the the unit below hers in their bathroom ceiling. Currently there are 4 floors in the building all with stacking bathrooms above each other. The Strata said they had removed a small rectangle piece of drywall to expose the leak. They said the leak might be originating from my wife's toilet. The strata then hired a plumber to verify this and provided both unit owners with a time and date that the plumber was coming.
He showed up to my wife’s unit October 18th 2015 10am. When he arrived he was extremely upset as the owner of the unit below hers was not home. He had a quick look at my wife’s bathroom and checked for leaks. He then removed the drain from her tub and replaced the putty seal around it. He noted at the time that the seal was old and brittle. It fell apart in his hand.
The strata then noted in their minutes of their monthly meeting that she was the one that was not home causing further delays in getting the leak fixed. My wife addressed them in a letter stating that they were wrong in this and that she was home for the plumber not the unit owners below me. She asked for them to make an amendment a send it out to all strata members as this was making me look bad to my neighbors. They just ignored this request and the minutes stand to this date as is.
The plumber later returned to my unit October 19th 2015 4pm. When both unit owners were home, he checked all of her bathroom fixtures again and flushed her toilet several times. He then proceeded to the unit below hers and later returned a short time later. He appeared confused and unsure. I (her husband) personally asked him if he found the leak as I have been a plumber for 27 years and had an invested interest. He said (with my wife, son and myself present) that the pipe was bone dry and not leaking. He then said he had to remove my wife’s toilet to check the seal. He did this and again he found that there was nothing leaking. The seal itself was correctly installed.
Because of our past dealings with this strata in a prior incident a year earlier, we did receive a settlement from them in a small claims action. We decided to video tape the service call with the plumber for our own protection. We do have the plumber on tape saying that there is no leak currently and time will tell if the leak shows up again. He also said the leak could have come from many other places and traveled down the pipes in the walls and leak there. This is an old building from the early 1970s with many prior leaks in the walls.
The Strata has sent her a huge bill for $3220.38 for the small drywall repair (25 hours labor and materials) including $168.57 for the plumber. The repair in the ceiling is approximately 16" x 24". We have sent back a response explaining that the leak was not proved to be from her toilet or bathtub. We also explained that we had the plumber on tape saying that he had no idea where the leak was coming from and that the leak could be coming from existing old pipes in the wall. We said we wanted to have a meeting or go to arbitration with the Strata but received no response other than the same bill emailed to us.
Do we have to pay this outrageous amount for a very small leak in a drywall ceiling where there is no proof where the leak came from? If we should not pay the bill do we ignore the bill? What are our next steps please? Can they place a lien on her?
Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Debra replied 1 year ago.
I am sorry to hear this. It is clear there is no evidence that your wife's unit has cause the problem. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. As well, if there was a leak in the pipe in the wall that is a common element. I suggest that you or even better still a lawyer acting for you send them a letter asserting your position and making it clear that you are happy to have a court decide. If they register a lien you can need to seek a court order but if they hear from a lawyer they will not likely register a lien at this point in time.