You are here

Condominium Law

28-Apr-2008 5:39 PM -- BGM
I am interested in finding out the liability involved concerning a water leak (hot water heater) that caused minor damage in a separate condo unit. There is no negligence involved. However, the leak occurred that appears to have caused minor damage to the other unit. Would the unit owner of the unit where the leak occurred be financially liable for any repairs? It had been my understanding that the unit owner would be liable only if negligence were involved. Could someone please point e in the right direction to answer this. Thank You.

29-Apr-2008 6:47 AM -- L Sigman Esq
Look in the master deed & trust documents. The water heater should be designated as either part of the unit, or as part of the common areas.

If the water heater is part of the unit, the unit owner is responsible for any damage caused to any unit by the leak. The unit owner should have insurance which will cover this.

If the water heater is designated as part of the common areas, then the condo association is responsible. The condo association/trust should have insurance to cover the damages. If it turns out that the condo association is responsible, DO NOT withhold condo fees to offset your damages. Keep paying and address the payment or reimbursement for damagages seperately.

In either instance, you should also notify your insurer as well.

L. Sigman
Sigman Law Office PC

23-Jun-2008 11:07 PM -- na7575
I have a very similar case concerning a water leak and
responsibility of the repair bill and I hope to get
some advice. The bathroom wall in my condo was damaged by a
water leak caused by another unit upstairs. The unit owner
who caused the damage refused to pay the repair bill of $950
as he stated the repair of inside the unit is the unit
owner's responsibility even when the damage is caused by another unit and according to him, it's common practice. He can't provide me specific examples why he thinks it's common practice except he said he was told it is common practice. I disagree with him because the damage was originated in his unit.

I have owned this unit since 1995 and I know this kind of leak problems occurred time to time as it's an old building and usually the unit owner who caused the damage paid the bill (with or without the insurance) or the unit owner who caused the damage and the unit owner of the affected unit spread the bill if the insurance doesn't cover it, or if the amount of the repair bill was small, or if the insurance claim was denied. Our condo document doesn't specify the responsibility of damage caused by another unit.

We also looked at master insurance policy as the master insurance covers the water pipes outside of the units, but to make the story short, the management company said the deductible is $5000 and it doesn't apply in this case and the association cannot pay for any portions of this repair bill.

I did some research on Internet and I still don't think I
should be responsible for the whole repair bill in this case.
I think filing a claim with the small claims court seems
only option left for me since the other party refused
to pay the bill after I sent two letters.

The other party is the chairman of the board and I'm disappointed with the way he is. I can't simply give up as I already know some other unit owners in the same building didn't end up paying the whole amount of the repair bill when
the damege was caused by another unit in the past.

Using my insurance to recover the cost of the repair is not
an option here, and he didn't agree to use his insurance.

Is the small claims court the best option for me now?
If you could share any advice, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.

Last Edited on 23-Jun-2008 11:11 PM

25-Jun-2008 8:09 AM -- Esquire
Yes, you should consider small claims court. Typically damage caused to one unit by a leak or such in another unit would be the responsibility of the latter.

You do not provide details, so I am not sure why addressing this with you insurance company is not an option - unless you do not actually have insurance which could be a violation of condo rules. Assuming you do have insurance, if you bring the claim to them, they can pursue the responsible party, sparing you the cost and expense of doing so.

To back your case - look at your condo documents, they should define what a unit owner owns, and therefore is responsible for. Beyond that, simple proprerty law states that damages caused to A's property by B or B's property is the repsonsibility of B.

You can go to small claims on your own, but you may want to consider contacting an attorney - either way, address this soon.

28-Jun-2008 11:51 AM -- Hally
In the late 90s, my condominium complex built storage bins in the basements of the various buildings. (These are garden style 4 unit apiece codos). In exchange for a fee, a unit owners was provided the "Right to Use" the bin for the duration of their ownership. They were not deeded. Upon request, some people were allowed to pay for and use two bins. As people sell/sold their units, the bins would be reassigned and new owners could take these bins. Yesterday, I received a document from the Board they want owners to sign. The document provides that the Association has the right to terminate the use agreement with 30 days
notice OR that they can take it away as a "punishment" for non-payment of fees or failure to abide by all provisions of the Condo documents. I believe the Association has no right to terminate our previously established use agreements since a fee was paid for the same. Also, I do not believe the Association has the authority to take away the use of the bin as a "fine" since this would be a matter requiring an amendment to the bylaws. A group of unit owners would like to challenge this action. Would we be on firm ground?


28-Jun-2008 12:13 PM -- JohnnyRocket

The association's only remedy against non-payment of condo fees is to institute collections proceedings (to include a priority lien against the unit). The association my not withhold services from unit owners for non-payment of fees. The storage bin would likely be considered to fall into this category. (A different outcome might occur if you were paying a separate monthly fee for the use, and were behind on that fee.)

If your trustees are not responsive to the collective wishes of the majority of the owners, the owners can opt to replace them.


0 post
12:12 PM -- GuestVKS
With the trustees not adhering to the 183a law or following condo docs and regulations, can the association be declared invalid? Can a judge void our deeds and make the original developer take his units back? Is this something our owner title insurance policy may cover?


0 post
5:08 PM -- L Sigman Esq
I went to a final walk through on a property in Bourne, MA after loading a moving UHAUL for 4.5 hours and driving 3.5 miles from CT to find that the seller who had a person leasing the property destroyed the dry wall in the kitchen and bedroom, left the place filthy, there was an Oil tank in the basement leaking and the sewage pipe out of the house was leaking into a finished basement which would be our only place to store everything we moved in the 14 ft truck full. I couldn't move into the property in that condition so I didn't close on the property. I called Wareham Boiler Company to inspect the leaking Oil tank for the heating system who verified it was leaking and needed total replacement. The seller said she would fight me "tooth and nail and file a law suit against me" because I didn't close on the property. What do I do? My closing attorney is still trying to make me close this week after losing $2000.00 in moving expenses and $1500.00 deposit they kept. Am I still bound to this sales contract or can I buy a different home? I lost my job and my home to move to the Cape and I'm a single mom with a son who has epilepsy what can I do now? I offered the seller $750.00 to release me from this contract and she said that wasn't enough. I am the one with the losses, not her.

10-Jul-2008 10:16 AM -- The Editor
Dear Editor:

I did have a closing attorney who told me to sign a release and release the $1500.00 deposit to her in turn for a complete release of all obligations from her, the seller. He said it would sit in escrow for ever and she was threatening to file a law suit against me for not closing. He told me I would have to file an law suit against her to get my money back and that would cost more than the money in question. There was a paragraph in my purchase and sale that said the property must not violate and codes and that is why I walked away from the sale, but it would cost me more to get the money out of escrow through a litigation attorney so I was told by my closing attorney that this was my only option and I was stuck in a " no win" situation. I hope I did the right thing. The seller still hasn't signed the release, I faxed it today July 10,2008. What she is doing is criminal and steeling from a single mother and her child. Did I do the right thing?

16-Jul-2008 6:32 AM -- L Sigman Esq

If a buyer walks away from a sale for no reason, or for one not covered in the offer, or the P&S, she typically loses the deposit. If however, there was no P&S signed, there were conditions in the offer that were required to be met prior to signing the P&S and these conditions were not met, the buyer can withdraw the offer. Common conditions are: the ability to obtain adequate financing, a satisfactory home inspection, or specific items for the seller to address (i.e. radon remediation).

You may have been in a situation such as those I have described which would allow you to withdraw your offer and receive your deposit back. There is also the possiblity that you withdrew from the sale inappropriately, in which case you are not entitled to the return of the deposit.

We would be happy to look over the paper work and give you our opinion, and if possible if it apperas that you wre entitled to have the deposit returned to you, we can assist you in getting your deposit back.


31-Jul-2008 1:05 PM -- BFE
The Board of our condominium association does not post meeting times nor do they post minutes of their meetings. Decisions are being made that we as owners of our units are unaware of until work has commenced or has been put off. I have requested meeting minutes, contracts, costs of items etc. and have been ignored. According to MA law aren't meetings supposed to be announced and open to the public? Also, shouldn't contracts be available for our viewing?

10-Aug-2008 7:27 AM -- L Sigman Esq
We own a condo in an association with a total of 3 units. My husband asked one of the owners yesterday to please not let his pets out into the yard, because they keep pooping into common areas without him cleaning up. We have had this conversation with him for many month now. Since then, whenever I enter the common yard, the pet owner yells profanities at me, including whore and Hitler. I had a co-worker visit yesterday afternoon, and while we were in the yard, he continued to yell things at me by opening windows or his backyard porch door. We had to leave the yard because he wouldn't stop.

What are my legal options to make this stop, and should I hire a real estate attorney for this or a different type of attorney?

11-Aug-2008 8:04 AM -- L Sigman Esq
Anonymous Griller:

Fire codes are established locally, by town. Typically if the porch has a roof, you can't grill there. To be sure, check with you town hall.

11-Aug-2008 1:23 PM -- taunton02780
I live in a condominium complex in Taunton, Massachusetts that was built nearly 3 years ago. The Association's "trustees" consist of the builder and his attorney. THE CONDO DOCS STATE THEY THEY WILL MAINTAIN CONTROL OVER THE TRUST UNTIL ALL UNITS ARE SOLD. It has been nearly 3 years now - 27 of the 36 units are now sold. Our grounds are in serious disrepair and are neglected (grass is a foot high, all weeds, most shrubs are dead). The builder is performing these "services" himself and the associations trust account is paying him handsomely for it. The problem is that THEY are the assocation (and not the owners) Same with snow plowing. Lights are out, pipes leak, calls are not returned. Now they have turned 3 units into RENTAL units (not currently for sale). This means that the owners will never have our own association - can they do this? All unit owners have banded together in agreement that we MUST challenge what is happening but we do not know what to do. Again, one of our "trustees" is an attorney and is intimidating the owners ... we've seen their version of the books and they are not even paying an association fee into the owners trust for the units they are renting out (so we owners are carrying that financial burden). Something is rotten in Taunton and we do not know where to proceed. Any expert advise?

Last Edited on 11-Aug-2008 1:26 PM

11-Aug-2008 5:57 PM -- JohnnyRocket

A review of your condo bylaws should be conducted by an attorney. Typically there are provisions for removing and replacing a board of trustees. While the operating event which turns your association over to a board of unit owners has not yet occurred, the circumstances indicate that it is time for a change in association management. Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss your options. Taunton is within my area of practice and I have had some success with owner initiated trustee challenges.

Attorney John F. Libertine

Last Edited on 11-Aug-2008 6:03 PM

Share this with your friends
Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Most offer FREE Consultations
Connect with The Forum
facebook google twitter linkedin