Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Massachusetts

Am I responsible for water damage?

I live in a condo on the second floor. My neighbor downstairs had water damage in walls and under hardwood floor from a pipe leak. They called the plumber who installed the plumbing 4 years ago and who is still on site doing plumbing work on continuing construction. They opened the wall and found a carpenter had punctured my hot water pipe with a nail when installing floor molding. The nail held all this time until last week when it rotted and burst open. My neighbors are looking at me to pay for the repair costs because it was my pipe and the pipe is my property. My insurance adjuster says it's not covered because there's no negligence, and it's beyond my control and unpreventable and unforeseen. My neighbor is angry with me because he feels I should pay to repair his walls and hardwood floor. My neighbor believes my pipe was not installed in the location is was supposed to be because the plumbing inspector, at the time of inspection, told the plumbers they had to install a different T-pipe drainage than was required in other units at this complex. He said the carpenter did not expect the pipe to be where it was. ???? Can anyone give me some guidance?? I don't think I am responsible.

Asked on 8/27/08, 1:08 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Re: Am I responsible for water damage?

Unless you installed the pipe after you bought the Condo, it is not your obligation but may be the Condo Associations. Likewise, I do not know who hired the Carpenter to do what that information is important, becuase if he was repairing the exterior of the property and the nail went into the pipe, it is again a problem for the condo assoiciation. Without reading the condo association or your insurance policy I cannot comment on their position adequately. However, the insurance company should have some liability here. The nail was not intentionally placed in the pipe. If a pipe bursts, the insurance will cover it. I do not think the insurance company is free of liability here. Generally, you are responsible only for pipes within your apartment at the edge of the wall. However, to be sure I would have to look at your condo documents.

I would suggest the Association contact its insurer immediately. Also, I think you should contact an attorney in your area familiar with condominium law and insurance claims.

Good Luck.

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Answered on 8/27/08, 1:22 pm

henry lebensbaum Law Offices of Henry Lebensbaum (978-749-3606)

Re: Am I responsible for water damage?

The plumbing may have been done by the COndo association, and to the extent that you are not responsible for any repair that was done, you should not be responsible for the damages from the repair.

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Answered on 8/27/08, 2:32 pm
Craig J. Tiedemann Kajko, Weisman & Colasanti, LLP

Re: Am I responsible for water damage?

This is a sticky situation presenting various legal and even construction issues. I agree claims upon the condo insurer are appropriate, and some push-back against your own insurer by an experienced attorney is probably also advisable.

Given the power of the various insurers, all of whom will try to dodge responsibility, you probably stand little chance here without adequate representation. Sad, but, unfortunately, probably true. Feel free to contact me directly to further discuss this.

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Answered on 8/27/08, 3:40 pm

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