Water damage caused by another property

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by snita, 14th Jan, 2020.

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  1. snita

    snita Member

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    Hi all

    There was a burst flexi hose in the bathroom of the apartment above us over the Christmas break, which subsequently flooded our bedroom and we had to remove our carpet, and possibly our wardrobe will need replacing as well (There was water coming out from under the wardrobe but we can't check the damage without ripping it out). The apartment above is tenanted and I have been in contact with the property manager who has confirmed the landlord has landlord insurance, but has also confirmed that this insurance does not include damage to other peoples properties, so our carpet and wardrobe look like they aren't covered which doesn't seem right to me. We don't have our own contents insurance at the moment, can anyone suggest what our options are?

    Thanks in advance
    Ben
     
  2. JDM

    JDM Well-Known Member

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    I would pursue it in the following order:
    1. owner's insurance
    2. tenant's insurance
    3. your insurance
    4. request the owner/tenant pay
    5. sue the owner and tenant
    I have previously dealt with the same issue where insurance said it wasn't covered, but it actually was if you read the policy. I wouldn't take the word of the insurer at face value.

    If you can't get insurance to respond, then you are left with a remedy against the owner/tenant and you need to decide if it is worth pursuing legally.
     
  3. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    +1 agree with this. Succinctly put!
     
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  4. bunkai

    bunkai Well-Known Member

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    The strata insurance may cover lot owners fixtures and improvements. This may include the wardrobe if built in but not the carpet. Excess might not make it worthwhile tho.
     
  5. snita

    snita Member

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    When you say owners insurance, do you mean landlord insurance (or is that what you mean by tenants insurance), or do you mean his home and contents insurance for his own place/house/wherever he lives?

    Would strata cover anything if the fault was within the apartment, as it was in this case? My understanding is strata have nothing to do with it if it is outside the walls of the apartment.

    Thanks
    Ben
     
  6. Paul@PAS

    [email protected] Tax, Accounting + SMSF + All things Property Tax Business Plus Member

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    Most insurers have general policy wording that deals with water damage in strange ways. To limit claims from cascading.

    The upstairs wont be insured for the strata unless it was accidental damage to strata property AND Accidential Damage (AD) cover is included. ie they exclude pipes that leak, burst etc. Often cover requires that someone or an event breaks the pipe. This acts to exclude all failures in the pipe from cover. The resulting damage may then be a second claim without that onerous requirement. To the insured property only !! This may apply in respect of the pipe as one event (often not covered unless its AD) and the ceiling as another. ie the resulting damage double dip clause. It will usually exclude contents. Resulting damage to the underside property is possibly a third claim with the occupants contents policy for the wardrobe AND the owners LL contents policy for THEIR carpet. Its their losses not those above them. The third claim will likely not be approved until the above claims and damage are made good. It may exclude any strata property. The owner may seek damages for loss .... But the occupant may argue its the strata and the strata may argue its the occupant. The owner below will have no basis to claim or find blame.

    The contents are not strata property and wont be insured. LL policies cover LL contents NOT tenant contents and occupant contents policies only covers the occupants property. Each party should posses their own contents insurance. Reliance on others to insure your property isnt what insurance covers. eg a tenant cant claim for LL property lost and a LL cant claim for tenants property lost.

    Ask yourself this - If it was a ring that is lost as the building collapses is it insured ? No. Its occupant contents. Each party insures their own possessions.

    Multiple claims and excesses often result. eg Recently in our home

    1. Accidental damage to the pipe. Repair cost less excess covered
    2. Resulting damage to building to ceiling - Repaint & plaster covered less excess 2
    3. Resulting damage to contents. We submitted claim and withdrew it as excess 3 > loss.
     
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  7. bunkai

    bunkai Well-Known Member

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    The strata policy won't specifically cover lot owners contents (including carpet) but lot owners fixtures is an option included on many policies (e.g. kitchens, bathrooms, built in wardrobes?).
     
  8. significance

    significance Well-Known Member

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    In Queensland, you can also seek adjudication for body corporate disputes. We had a very similar issue in my building recently (damage to one flat from a plumbing leak in a neighbouring flat) and they took this path. Everyone in the building was notified and given the opportunity to chime in before a decision was made (from memory in favour of the owner of the damaged flat). Adjudication for body corporate disputes
     
  9. The Y-man

    The Y-man Moderator Staff Member

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    Something like this happened to my tenants ages ago - I think my LL insurance covered?

    The Y-man
     
  10. snita

    snita Member

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    Thanks for the detailed answer Paul, I just wish I understood it better (that's on me, not you)!

    Just to clarify, there is no fault on behalf of strata here, from what I understand. The burst flexi hose was within the bathroom therefor it is the owners responsibility, nothing to do with strata. The water came from their bathroom down through the walls and out on to our bedroom floor. no damage to the walls or ceilings (concrete slab/walls). If it weren't tenanted and was owner occupied instead, would I not be able to claim on the owners contents insurance? I would have assumed if the situation was reversed, someone would be able to claim on my insurance (if I had any) and if I didn't, I would be liable to pay for the damage?
     
  11. snita

    snita Member

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    I understand the contents vs fixtures, but would strata cover fixtures when strata has no fault?
     
  12. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Still strata's issue as the water came through common property to get to your unit.
     
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  13. Ted Varrick

    Ted Varrick Well-Known Member

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  14. Stoffo

    Stoffo Well-Known Member

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    In NSW there are requirements for waterproofing and a drain to be in the bathroom/laundry.........
    It shouldn't just run down the wall into your appartment !
    So did the waterproofing fail ? (Or no drain and it overflowed out the doorway?)
    How old is the complex ? (Too old to claim against the builder ?)
     
  15. bunkai

    bunkai Well-Known Member

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    The fixtures would be covered if some random person burnt down the building - same concept.

    Legal liability (e.g. "fault") is a different part of the policy. Any claim you made on the lot owner would be probably covered by that component of their policy.
     
  16. Paul@PAS

    [email protected] Tax, Accounting + SMSF + All things Property Tax Business Plus Member

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    Many bathrooms have almost flat floors and water will escape out the bathroom door. And bypass waterproofing. A bathmat on the floor is often a contributing factor. This happens a lot with plumbed fridges which can affect the whole apartment when water flows across the whole slab. You could be arguing about blame forever and with absence of evidence its just a neighbours dispute. No better policy than your own policy. Allow the insurer to chase the liability if you identify the other party upstairs.

    Tip - You cannot claim on another persons policy. They cant indemnify you either (their policy wont cover such acts). The policy covers THEM. ("The Insured") for their property ("The insured's property") However if your insurer submits a claim to them that is their option. Then they may need to pass this to their insurer. And it would be a liability claim. Only the insured can claim for liability. The first element is a valid claim. They can always say no and it leaves you with only a legal avenue. The insurance route may be easier at the cost of an excess. That liability claim should include your excess when lodged by the insurer. If its paid your insurer will refund the excess you paid as fault is then the persons above.

    This is the same argument people have with travel insurance. Others may well be liable if you could get them to admit it and pay but you claim on the insurance for the loss. Its more certain.
     

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