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Q&A: Water, Water Everywhere?

Water, Water Everywhere?

Q We moved into a condo that was a gut rehab and have had leaks from the roof and exterior walls hit multiple rooms in our apartment for the last decade. We are the first owners. The various boards have settled with the developer so he no longer has any responsibility and as the board did the settlement without the knowledge and consent of the insurance company, they will not accept responsibility for the damage or repair. The various boards have done piecemeal work to patch areas but while two engineering firms have noted that extensive work is required, the board is still looking for a cheap way out. Meanwhile, the leaks continue. The court did not grant a preliminary injunction but noted that we can pursue monetary damages. Even if successful, the monetary damages will not fix the roof/walls as only the board can do that work. We really want the leaks to stop. Who else can help us force the board to do the extensive repairs quickly so that we don’t have this problem for the next decade?

—Leaking in Lewiston

A

“The association, acting by the Board of Directors, is responsible for the common elements of the association,” explains attorney Franklin G. Pilicy of the law firm of Franklin G. Pilicy, P.C. in Watertown, Connecticut. “This includes maintenance, repair and replacement of common elements as needed to keep water out of the unit. In Connecticut there is case law confirming that the association is responsible to prevent water damage and to repair water damage where the association has failed to keep water out of a unit. Such damages may or may not include damage to personal property inside the unit. Each state’s laws and the specific facts surrounding the damage will govern the outcome; however, the general rule is that each unit owner is responsible for his or her own personal property.

“The fact that the board previously settled with the developer should have no bearing on the present problem. The board very well may have achieved the best settlement possible taking into account many factors including timeliness, statute of limitations and the financial condition of the developer. It is difficult to comment as to the insurance company because additional facts would be needed. In Connecticut, there is limited court precedent for a unit owner, as an additional insured, to bring a direct action against the insurance company. You should seek legal advice from local counsel on this issue.

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