Determining who is liable for water damage can be a fairly complicated task. As an owner of a condo unit, if the condo unit above you has an overflowing toilet that causes water damage to your ceiling and floor, they should have to cover your insurance deductible, right? Wrong. Unless the unit owner can be proven negligent for the water damages, the condo unit owner below will be responsible for going through their own insurance to cover the cost of the damage caused.
This case happened to condo unit owners Clayton Zale and Eileen Kelly from BC who sought to recover their deductible from a unit with a leaking toilet through small claims court (Zale et al v. Hodgins). The problem with their case was that they relied on their strata’s bylaws, which referred to the strata corporation’s responsibility to cover repairs to a strata lot. A condo’s bylaws govern the way a unit owner can use their lot and governs their behaviour within it, but you cannot prove that a unit owner in another lot is negligent solely based off these bylaws. The court found that if the condo unit owner is reasonably unaware of the problem that caused the toilet to leak and thus the damage to occur, they will not be held liable.
It is the condo owner’s responsibility to maintain his or her own unit. If the source of damage occurs within one’s own lot as a result of the unit owner’s negligence, the unit owner’s insurance will be responsible for the claim. The condo corporation has an obligation to maintain a certain level of insurance coverage for damage to the units and the common property, but the deductible under this coverage is often higher than the damages that occur. For this reason, it is important that each condo unit owner has adequate insurance to protect their belongings in the event of a claim, as well as to cover any potential liability for damage to other units or common property.
If you are a strata council/condo board member, review your condo corporation’s existing insurance and insurance deductible to know what is covered. If you have any further questions or are interested in Residential Real Estate Insurance with Fuse, talk to one of our expert brokers today.
Read more: Preparing for Winter: Preventing Burst Pipes
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