Fullerton, CA asked in Real Estate Law for California

Q: The drain of the toilet in my condo invisibly dripped water that caused damage to the condo below. Must I pay for it?

There wan't any indication of any problem with the toilet that could be seen in my condo, so that it does not seem that I was negligent. The toilet was in the condo when I bought it. Am i legally responsible for the damage to the other condo?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, the issue of liability for water damage stemming from invisible leaks, such as from a toilet, often hinges on the concept of negligence. If there was no way for you to have known about the leak—meaning there were no visible signs or indications of a problem—you may argue that you were not negligent. This defense is crucial because negligence would typically be required for you to be held financially responsible for the damages caused to another condo.

However, condo associations and insurance policies can have specific rules and coverage terms that might affect who is responsible for such damages. It's common for condominium associations to have insurance that covers certain types of damage to units or common areas, while individual owners might be responsible for the interiors of their own units. The governing documents of your condo association (CC&Rs—Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) should outline these specifics.

It would be wise to review your insurance policy and the condo association's rules. Communicating with your insurance provider and the condo association could help clarify your responsibilities. If the damage is significant and there's disagreement over liability, consulting with an attorney who understands property and insurance law in California might be necessary. They can offer guidance based on the specifics of your situation, the law, and the relevant insurance policies.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.