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  1. #1
    tigtig is offline Junior Member
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    condo board responsibility?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? DC

    Hi, if an event occurred in the common area that damaged my unit, the insurance wiggled its way out of paying most of the repairing cost, and the board accepted the insurance decision without consulting with me, is the association still responsible for the cost to repair my place?
  2. #2
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigtig View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? DC

    Hi, if an event occurred in the common area that damaged my unit, the insurance wiggled its way out of paying most of the repairing cost, and the board accepted the insurance decision without consulting with me, is the association still responsible for the cost to repair my place?
    **A: not enough info provided. Explain the event in detail. The Board should not base a decision on the insurance outcome but by following the CC&R's, in some cases.
  3. #3
    tigtig is offline Junior Member
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    Here is the story:

    My unit had water damage caused by water break in the common area. I am in the lower level unit with wood floor/carpet on concrete. The board didn't want to file a master insurance until I threatened to sue. I see mold growth and I have 2 independent reports stating my floor needs to be replaced because of the period of time it's wet. The master insurance is saying the damage is not a result of the water break (even though you can see the mold is growing on the wall where the water touched/entered my place but they say it's because the common area was not vented properly). I had 2 independent reports stating my floor needs to be replaced because of the period of time it's wet. The insurance also said my floor moisture issue is pre-existing and probably because of the slabs underneath. Now, the slabs are considered common elements and the by laws say the association is responsible to maintain and repair common areas. If the common area (in this case, the slab) is causing damages to my floor, I would think the association needs to fix both issues.

    The board thinks the master insurance decision is the end of it. They didn't read the report to see I believe the master insurance is getting out of paying by trying to push the causes to areas not covered by insurance.

    I am now left to deal with flooring and mold issues. I just want to know, in principle, if I am not responsible for any of the damages and associated repairing cost (I understand if the association has to pay, I have to pay part of it).
  4. #4
    festival is offline Member
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    Did you file a claim with your insurance company? They usually know the issues and will try to collect from your association's insurance when possible. What do they say about it?

    Most plumbing problems such as a water break are not due to negligence, meaning that it is not the association's fault that a pipe broke. Is there some reason that this water break was due to negligence? For example, did the association know about a small leak and fail to repair it before it became a big leak? Did they hire an incompetent plumber? Bad materials or mounting? Did the association know of a similar problem in another location? Pipes often fail without negligence.

    Did anyone call a remediation company to dry it out?
  5. #5
    tigtig is offline Junior Member
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    the water break occured because the builder didn't turn on the heater in that room. i ended up paying the water remediation on my own. i called my insurance but it said since it happened outside of my unit the master is responsible and there is nothing they can do.

    my insurance broker told me the coverage i needed based on what he read in the bylaw.
  6. #6
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigtig View Post
    Here is the story:

    My unit had water damage caused by water break in the common area. I am in the lower level unit with wood floor/carpet on concrete. The board didn't want to file a master insurance until I threatened to sue. I see mold growth and I have 2 independent reports stating my floor needs to be replaced because of the period of time it's wet. The master insurance is saying the damage is not a result of the water break (even though you can see the mold is growing on the wall where the water touched/entered my place but they say it's because the common area was not vented properly). I had 2 independent reports stating my floor needs to be replaced because of the period of time it's wet. The insurance also said my floor moisture issue is pre-existing and probably because of the slabs underneath. Now, the slabs are considered common elements and the by laws say the association is responsible to maintain and repair common areas. If the common area (in this case, the slab) is causing damages to my floor, I would think the association needs to fix both issues.

    The board thinks the master insurance decision is the end of it. They didn't read the report to see I believe the master insurance is getting out of paying by trying to push the causes to areas not covered by insurance.

    I am now left to deal with flooring and mold issues. I just want to know, in principle, if I am not responsible for any of the damages and associated repairing cost (I understand if the association has to pay, I have to pay part of it).

    **A: so where is your insurance company in all of this? Why did you not file a claim and have your insurance company handle things and subrogate.
  7. #7
    festival is offline Member
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    Wow, you are really getting the runaround from everyone. I'm not an attorney, but I have handled this several times for our condominium association, and I've followed many blogs and read some articles about it. Here is my understanding.

    Definitely file a claim with your insurance company. Don't trust your broker to know about the complexities of this situation. Your insurance has to cover your loss. The remediation is part of the claim, as is the mold and the floor. It is their job to attempt to recover from the responsible party. Talk directly to the insurance adjuster.

    Get out your governing documents to make sure you know the exact definition of your unit. Your insurance only covers your unit, and does not cover any walls or wall parts that are common elements. Since everyone is giving you the runaround, you can also read the sections on maintenance responsibilities for you and the association, and the insurance section. This stuff varies from association to association. Review all of this with your insurance adjuster.

    Since the builder or the association did not maintain heat, one of them is responsible for your initial loss, including the cost of your remediation. This is really obvious, so I'm not sure how anyone could have missed it. Did they acknowledge that a pipe broke due to freezing, which in turn was due to not maintaining heat? Did you request reimbursement for the remediation?
  8. #8
    festival is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeGuru View Post
    **A: so where is your insurance company in all of this? Why did you not file a claim and have your insurance company handle things and subrogate.
    Yes, exactly.
  9. #9
    tigtig is offline Junior Member
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    I filed with my insurance a long time ago..... they came out and did a cost estimate, but denied my claim because the water originated from common area. I contacted my insurance repeatedly to see if there is anything they can do because I wasn't getting anywhere with all other parties. I was told there is nothing they could do, not even contacting the master insurance. I bought extra insurance to cover the cost in case no one else would, including water backup. Apparently it doesn't do anything.

    The builder acknowledged the negligence but refused to remediate properly. I don't know what the board told the master insurance, but they weren't friendly to me and my fiance. The board thinks whatever the insurance said is the final decision.

    The bylaw says the association needs to repair/maintain common area, but exclude itself from unit property damages resulting from water leak. My next step is to at least force them to address the common elements (if they want to believe the story about water seeping through the concrete).

    I don't know if I can hold them responsible because they failed to satisfy the fiduciary duty of fighting for me to correct the issues.

    Oh, I did send the bill (water remediation part) to the builder, which they ignored. Since it's under my name, I had to pay it out of my pocket. How is that for my luck?
  10. #10
    festival is offline Member
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    First, in regard to your own insurance, you should be covered so I would start some vigorous complaining. Go back to your broker, review the basics of your coverage, and get the broker to go to the insurance company for you. Also get on the phone with your insurance company to find a supervisor who knows condos. Google DC insurance commissioner and follow the advice on the official website for filing a complaint.

    Please post the exact wording from your bylaws (or declaration) that says the association is not responsible for water damage in units.

    As I understand it, the association is not responsible for damage that results from bad venting / slab as long as they did not know there was a problem in your unit or similar units and they could not reasonably be expected to know of the problem. They are now responsible for future damage, assuming that is actually the cause.
  11. #11
    tigtig is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by festival View Post
    First, in regard to your own insurance, you should be covered so I would start some vigorous complaining. Go back to your broker, review the basics of your coverage, and get the broker to go to the insurance company for you. Also get on the phone with your insurance company to find a supervisor who knows condos. Google DC insurance commissioner and follow the advice on the official website for filing a complaint.

    Please post the exact wording from your bylaws (or declaration) that says the association is not responsible for water damage in units.

    As I understand it, the association is not responsible for damage that results from bad venting / slab as long as they did not know there was a problem in your unit or similar units and they could not reasonably be expected to know of the problem. They are now responsible for future damage, assuming that is actually the cause.
    Here are some of the points in the bylaw that might be associated with my issue:

    1. The association shall be responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the following: (1) The common elements, whether located inside or outside of the units

    2. The Association shall not be liable for any failure of water supply or other services to
    be obtained by the Association or paid for as a Common Expense or for injury or damage to person
    or property caused by the elements or resulting from electricity, water, snow or ice which may leak
    or flow from any portion of the Common Elements or from any wire, pipe, drain, conduit, appliance
    or equipment.

    3. Each Residential Unit can be individually utilized and has its own exit to the common
    elements of the Condominium. Each Residential Unit consists of the space enclosed horizontally by
    the innermost surface of the drywall which comprises the perimeter walls enclosing the Unit and
    vertically by the lowest surface of the lowest wooden floor or subfloor in the Unit, and by the
    uppermost unexposed surface of the lath or drywall ceilings in the Unit. (note, I don't think concrete slab is "subfloor," right?)

    4. The General Common Elements are those poliions of the Common Elements used by all of the unit owners in general. They consist of all Common Elements other than Limited Common Elements, and include, without limitation (i) the
    Land; (ii) the foundations, roof (not including roof decks, if any), slabs, floors, ceilings, perimeter
    walls, structural interior walls.....



    Thanks for your advice!
  12. #12
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigtig View Post
    Here are some of the points in the bylaw that might be associated with my issue:

    1. The association shall be responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the following: (1) The common elements, whether located inside or outside of the units

    2. The Association shall not be liable for any failure of water supply or other services to
    be obtained by the Association or paid for as a Common Expense or for injury or damage to person
    or property caused by the elements or resulting from electricity, water, snow or ice which may leak
    or flow from any portion of the Common Elements or from any wire, pipe, drain, conduit, appliance
    or equipment.

    3. Each Residential Unit can be individually utilized and has its own exit to the common
    elements of the Condominium. Each Residential Unit consists of the space enclosed horizontally by
    the innermost surface of the drywall which comprises the perimeter walls enclosing the Unit and
    vertically by the lowest surface of the lowest wooden floor or subfloor in the Unit, and by the
    uppermost unexposed surface of the lath or drywall ceilings in the Unit. (note, I don't think concrete slab is "subfloor," right?)

    4. The General Common Elements are those poliions of the Common Elements used by all of the unit owners in general. They consist of all Common Elements other than Limited Common Elements, and include, without limitation (i) the
    Land; (ii) the foundations, roof (not including roof decks, if any), slabs, floors, ceilings, perimeter
    walls, structural interior walls.....



    Thanks for your advice!
    **A: meet with an attorney and prepare to sue the Board et. al.
  13. #13
    festival is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigtig View Post
    Here are some of the points in the bylaw that might be associated with my issue:

    1. The association shall be responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the following: (1) The common elements, whether located inside or outside of the units

    2. The Association shall not be liable for any failure of water supply or other services to
    be obtained by the Association or paid for as a Common Expense or for injury or damage to person
    or property caused by the elements or resulting from electricity, water, snow or ice which may leak
    or flow from any portion of the Common Elements or from any wire, pipe, drain, conduit, appliance
    or equipment.

    3. Each Residential Unit can be individually utilized and has its own exit to the common
    elements of the Condominium. Each Residential Unit consists of the space enclosed horizontally by
    the innermost surface of the drywall which comprises the perimeter walls enclosing the Unit and
    vertically by the lowest surface of the lowest wooden floor or subfloor in the Unit, and by the
    uppermost unexposed surface of the lath or drywall ceilings in the Unit. (note, I don't think concrete slab is "subfloor," right?)

    4. The General Common Elements are those poliions of the Common Elements used by all of the unit owners in general. They consist of all Common Elements other than Limited Common Elements, and include, without limitation (i) the
    Land; (ii) the foundations, roof (not including roof decks, if any), slabs, floors, ceilings, perimeter
    walls, structural interior walls.....



    Thanks for your advice!
    I do not think that the language in point 2 is strong enough to protect the association from claims of negligence, and I think that failure to maintain heat is negligence. Negligence is different than damage from a pipe that fails without negligence. The language does not protect the builder at all.

    However, in case the language does protect the association, then your insurance has to cover you for water damage. Water remediation should be covered as part of the loss.

    Point 3 (and point 4 "perimeter walls") says that you own the "paint in", which means that the wall including drywall is a common element that the association has to maintain. If a wall and insulation gets wet, then the association has to take the wall apart to dry it. Guess what happens if the wall remains wet? Mold. If this is the case, the cause of the mold is from the failure of the association to mitigate further damage as opposed to the water break itself.

    Point 4 establishes that the slab is a common element. I doubt that the slab is actually the cause. Request that the board hire a licensed architect, building engineer or inspector to determine whether the slab is causing the problem and if it needs to be repaired and how to repair it. The insurance report puts the association on notice that the slab has caused damage. If the slab causes future damage the association is liable (negligent). If the association has to remove your floor to inspect or make repairs to the slab, then they have to repair/replace your floor check the section of your documents concerning the association's maintenance responsibilities, which should contain the wording that they have to repair your damage caused by their repairs.

    You need some professional help, either from your insurance broker, DC's insurance commissioner, a "public adjuster" who will work for your claim (Google it), or an attorney. It should not be hard to find a licensed building engineer or inspector, one who is acceptable to the board, to give an expert opinion on the cause, which can be used to inform the board and in court if necessary.
  14. #14
    tigtig is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by festival View Post
    I do not think that the language in point 2 is strong enough to protect the association from claims of negligence, and I think that failure to maintain heat is negligence. Negligence is different than damage from a pipe that fails without negligence. The language does not protect the builder at all.

    However, in case the language does protect the association, then your insurance has to cover you for water damage. Water remediation should be covered as part of the loss.

    Point 3 (and point 4 "perimeter walls") says that you own the "paint in", which means that the wall including drywall is a common element that the association has to maintain. If a wall and insulation gets wet, then the association has to take the wall apart to dry it. Guess what happens if the wall remains wet? Mold. If this is the case, the cause of the mold is from the failure of the association to mitigate further damage as opposed to the water break itself.

    Point 4 establishes that the slab is a common element. I doubt that the slab is actually the cause. Request that the board hire a licensed architect, building engineer or inspector to determine whether the slab is causing the problem and if it needs to be repaired and how to repair it. The insurance report puts the association on notice that the slab has caused damage. If the slab causes future damage the association is liable (negligent). If the association has to remove your floor to inspect or make repairs to the slab, then they have to repair/replace your floor – check the section of your documents concerning the association's maintenance responsibilities, which should contain the wording that they have to repair your damage caused by their repairs.

    You need some professional help, either from your insurance broker, DC's insurance commissioner, a "public adjuster" who will work for your claim (Google it), or an attorney. It should not be hard to find a licensed building engineer or inspector, one who is acceptable to the board, to give an expert opinion on the cause, which can be used to inform the board and in court if necessary.
    Hi, thanks for the information. The board accepted the insurance report that the moisture coming up for the slab as a reason for my floor being "wet." So now the insurance is out of the picture. I have reports and numerious articles that support the fact that floor can't be wet for that long. Do I have to wait until I have actual mold/wood rot issue before I can request repair to the slab (if that's what the board believes it's the cause of my issue)? My bylaw does say any incidiental damages caused by reparing the comment elements will be paid by the association.

    Just want to make sure,

    1. Do you mean I only own that layer of paint of the wall? Even if not, there is only one drywall that separates my unit and the common area (yes most of time there should be 2, one on each side). Unfortunately, the drywall is on myside of the stud, so is it mine or the common element? The mold is growing on the common element's side.

    2. Can the association said it's my reponsbility to have a moisture barrier to protect my flooring to beging with? I know it's a weird question but I just don't know enough about the law to know if somehow every party can get out of paying for my damage. I have done anything to cause further damages.

    I am consulting with a lawyer and I hope she can help me!! I am just very nervous and stressed for the past 3 months. Any information that would ease my mind is greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by tigtig; 04-24-2013 at 07:54 AM.
  15. #15
    festival is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigtig View Post
    Hi, thanks for the information. The board accepted the insurance report that the moisture coming up for the slab as a reason for my floor being "wet." So now the insurance is out of the picture. I have reports and numerious articles that support the fact that floor can't be wet for that long. Do I have to wait until I have actual mold/wood rot issue before I can request repair to the slab (if that's what the board believes it's the cause of my issue)? My bylaw does say any incidiental damages caused by reparing the comment elements will be paid by the association.

    Just want to make sure,

    1. Do you mean I only own that layer of paint of the wall? Even if not, there is only one drywall that separates my unit and the common area (yes most of time there should be 2, one on each side). Unfortunately, the drywall is on myside of the stud, so is it mine or the common element? The mold is growing on the common element's side.

    2. Can the association said it's my reponsbility to have a moisture barrier to protect my flooring to beging with? I know it's a weird question but I just don't know enough about the law to know if somehow every party can get out of paying for my damage. I have done anything to cause further damages.

    I am consulting with a lawyer and I hope she can help me!! I am just very nervous and stressed for the past 3 months. Any information that would ease my mind is greatly appreciated.
    You may wish to post in the insurance area of this website. I'm not an expert in insurance, for example indemnify.

    If you have expert reports that your floor is now damaged, then you don't have to wait for mold and rot. However, you need good expert evidence of both the damage and the cause, since "they" may argue the opposite. I previously suggested an expert such as architect, engineer or building inspector. I would add one who's testimony would be good in court and not just a contractor who wants to sell you a new floor, although a knowledgeable contractor may suffice.

    Insurance covers sudden and accidental damage that might result from, lets see now, ah yes, for example a break in a water pipe. Insurance will not usually cover slow rot conditions. However, the association's insurance also covers their liability for negligence (failure to maintain heat) or negligence for not mitigating damage.

    If the floor damage really is from slow seepage, then you may not be able to collect from anyone (except maybe from the builder, see 2 below). Again, an expert may be able to establish the real cause. You can also put pressure on the association to either reconsider or else fix the slab, which would be expensive and likely unnecessary.

    1. Yes, you only own the paint, not the wallboard. This is fairly common. You can't claim any damage since the mold is in the common elements. You can request the association to clean up the mold in the common area.

    2. You may be responsible for a moisture barrier or insulation to prevent condensation. It is not a weird question. The seepage may be the builder's responsibility, depending on building code and standards, construction guarantee (which may be in your declaration) and statute of limitations. Again, an expert.

    Legal action can be as simple as a stern letter from your attorney, or you could start with the simplest single issue in small claims court.

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