NEW ENGLAND CONDO EXPO. NOV 2ND . BOSTON CONVENTION CENTER. REGISTER NOW!

Q&A: Stained Relationships

Q. I am a trustee at a 50-unit condominium association in Massachusetts and I have a question.

There are two condominium owners involved. One owner lives above the other owner. The upstairs owner had a minor leak from a shower head. It caused minor damage to the ceiling of the downstairs unit owner (small water ring around a light). Who is responsible for repairing (if it is necessary) and bleaching the white ceiling to remove the stain? I thought I recently read in a newsletter that the downstairs unit owner was responsible for repairing and bleaching the ceiling even though the damage was caused accidentally by the upstairs owner’s shower. Can you help me understand the legal answer so I can try and resolve this issue?

                        —Staring at the Ceiling

A. “Based on the circumstances described, you have an issue between two owners (as opposed to an issue involving the association),” says Gary M. Daddario, partner in the Braintree, Massachusetts firm of Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, P.C. “These situations sometimes arise and become somewhat similar to disputes that may be had between two neighbors with single-family homes. 

“I was previously involved in a Massachusetts case which I think was analyzed by the court in typical fashion. The court made inquiry as to whether or not the upstairs unit owner was negligent in some manner. The court looked at questions like, ‘When did the upstairs owner become aware of the problem? Once they knew about it, what was their response? Should they have [responded] any sooner? Was there any lack of normal maintenance which would have avoided the problem?’ In that case, the court concluded that a toilet leaked through no fault of its owner and that the owner took appropriate measures to fix it as soon as they became aware.  

“So, the court explained, while the circumstances are somewhat tragic, they do not present a case for legal recovery. Based on the information provided, I believe your case would be analyzed along the same lines. Other options would include the possibility of the damage being covered by either owner’s H06 insurance policy. The final answer as to those options would depend on the existence of such insurance and the terms of the policies, as well as the deductible amounts and the dollar value of the damage.”

Related Articles

Annoying mishap. My key is broken

Q&A: Whose Door Is It?

Q&A: Whose Door Is It?

termite exterminate

Q&A: Stop the Spread!

Q&A: Stop the Spread!

Hand with miniature red umbrella isolated on blue background protect concept. Close up of different women hands holding little tiny blue umbrellas against while a red one differentiate itself. Investment protection and insurance concept, differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Loss, Insurance, & Claims

A Primer

Tiny wooden houses and question mark. Home valuation and selection.

Insurance in the Multifamily Setting

Knowing Who Covers What is Key

Real estate developer and managing property investment concept. Selective focus wooden houses with question mark on table

Boards, Managers, Landlords

Understanding the Difference

Men and women neighbours characters living in neighboring home apartments hear loud music. Flat Art Vector illustration

Noise, Odors, & Leaks: Oh My!

How Co-ops & Condos Can Deal with Conflict