Apartment Building

What To Do When You Have Water Damage From an Upstairs Condo

Is there a leak coming from upstairs that has caused your condominium significant damage? In some cases, you may not even know it yet until it’s too late.

If you live in a condo and have upstairs neighbors, a leak can spring without you or your neighbors even realizing it. Before you know it, their floors are ruined, and your ceiling, walls, furniture, and more are getting damp and moldy.

You may not always be able to prevent an upstairs leak, but you can be ready to act in case one springs. Learn how to do damage control correctly, where liability falls, and how to navigate insurance in the aftermath.

What Do I Do if I Experience a Water Leak From Condo Above?

Before you take any of the steps below or even give your upstairs neighbors the chance to douse your unit in water, you should read and understand your rights. Contact your HOA or property manager to get a copy of the agreement that you signed.

You’ll find everything you need to know about liability, insurance, repairs, and payment. You don’t want to be scrambling to understand all this while cleaning up after a mess and dealing with repair workers.

Reach Out to Your Upstairs Neighbor If You See These Signs

If the leak has already started, you need to act fast. First, you’ll want to get in touch with your upstairs neighbor immediately.

Water damage can occur anywhere. The telltale signs will be:

  • Water spots on the ceiling
  • A visible leak
  • Water running behind the walls
  • Dripping where the ceiling meets the walls

If you see these signs,  the time for action is now.

Don’t start with the phone—go upstairs physically and knock on their door. A pipe could have burst, or your neighbor may have overrun the bathtub and not noticed. They may not even be home and would appreciate it if you intervened before the leak wrecks their entire apartment and yours.

Contact the Property Manager

After you’ve contacted the upstairs neighbors and plugged the source of the leak, it’s time to let the property manager or condominium management company know.

Chances are, the liability falls on them to repair the issue that caused the leak and even potentially front the costs to repair the damage.

Document the Damage

If standing water is in your apartment, it’s alright to use a wet vac to remove it immediately because the damage incurred from standing water happens fast. But try and document everything before you touch anything.

Person Taking Notes In Notebook

Even if it’s just quick pictures on your smartphone, document every place the water touched. If it’s on the walls, the ceiling, your furniture, or your belongings, it’s all worth documenting.

These pictures will make the insurance agent very happy when they have to come to survey the damage at your condo.

Begin the Cleanup

Now that you have a record of the damage’s scope and have ensured no more damage will occur, you can begin the cleanup process. Even if you have professional cleaners booked to come, it’s not a bad idea to get the basic stuff done.

Remove any standing water from the space with a wet/dry vac. Then you’ll want to dab any absorbent surface, such as a carpet, rug, or furniture upholstered with fabric.

Call Insurance

If you’ve gotten the HOA or the condominium management company involved, they will probably handle the damage through their insurers. But there are agreements where condo owners sign away their rights to have damage covered by the HOA.

If you need to seek damage repair through your insurance, make sure you coordinate with your upstairs neighbor. They are, after all, the ones that got you into this mess. Their insurance company should be the one that pays you out to cover all repair expenses.

Book a Mold Remediation and Water Damage Specialist

Finally, it’s time to book mold remediation and water damage specialists to come. The HOA or property manager may already have a specialist on retainer in the case of this particular type of emergency. In that case, let them handle it.

Even if you don’t think you’ve detected any mold in your condo, it’s better safe than sorry. Mold can be highly detrimental and present health risks. You should treat it aggressively and immediately with the help of a knowledgeable professional.

Who Is Responsible for Water Damage in a Condo?

Who Pays for a Leak From the Flat Above?

Settling liability in cases like these, where multiple parties are involved—not just you and your upstairs neighbor but the HOA—can be tricky. Fortunately, you don’t have to make that decision. There’s a 99% chance none of the liability will fall on you.

Generally, in these cases, the responsibility defaults to the owner of the unit from which the leak sprung. But since this is a condominium overseen by an HOA, the liability may bounce from the upstairs condo owner to the HOA.

Who pays for the leak depends on how the leak started. Sometimes, it might be the fault of the HOA for having substandard maintenance practices. Or, it might be the condo owner whose negligence or faulty maintenance caused the leak.

Does Condo Insurance Cover All Water Damage?

Condo insurance providers have the money to pay for your unit’s water damage. The question is, whose insurance will be the one to pay?

Depending on your property manager and the state you live in, you may or may not have had to take out a condo insurance policy. The state of Florida, for example, has a law that states that condo associations are responsible for property maintenance and management. They must repair any portion of the unit insured by the association or face the consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is My HOA Responsible for Water Damage?

The answer to this question depends on where you live and how the leak started in the first place. An insurance adjuster will visit the scene of the damage to inspect the scope of it all and determine the likely source.

If the inspector finds the condo owner upstairs liable, the neighbor may only partially be the party responsible for shelling out for damages. HOAs are often on the hook for damages purely because they manage the property.

What Are the Common Causes of Water Damage From an Upstairs Condo?

There are some common causes of water damage in condo settings. The first is faulty appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, and automatic icemakers in freezers.

Some leaks spring up around bathtubs and showers. Clogged toilets and sewer lines are other culprits, while leaky pipes within the walls account for even more.

Need Help? Contact All Dry USA for Water Damage Restoration & Repair Services

All Dry USA is your destination for all things water damage restoration and mold remediation. Whether residential or commercial, All Dry USA is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you clean up the damage and get your life back on track.

Ben Suiskind
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