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Condo water damage (Ontario - Scarborough)

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  • Dec 11th, 2020 3:14 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote

Condo water damage (Ontario - Scarborough)

Hi everyone,

Thanks to everyone in advance for any views and advice! Sorry for the long post and poor grammar.



tldr; There was water leaking down to the 5 units below us (not sure if it's the same floor or leaked all the way down). Management is trying to blame us for the damage caused. They have a picture of the wet floor and my mom cleaning the water. Can they prove that we were negligent with the pictures and have us pay for the damage? We don't have home insurance so we would have to deal with it ourselves.



I live in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, and have been in my condo for about 12-13 years now. I've never had any major problems or repairs.



The Story

Two days ago, we were woken up at 4 AM by security notifying us of a leak in one of the units below us. She came up to check our washroom; she saw some water on the ground, took some pictures, and left. We weren't aware of any other issues afterward, nor did she tell us to shut down our pipes. We went back to sleep.

Around 11 AM the next morning (I was at work but my parents were at home), one of the property managers came up and told us that our unit has caused even more water damage. He came to the conclusion that we were responsible because he claimed he saw a puddle of water on the floor, water in buckets in the bathtub (which my mother uses to hand-wash some clothing), and my mother washing clothes and mopping. He then took a few pictures and turned off the pipes in that washroom. (To be clear, my mom was mopping because she noticed water coming from the bathroom and into her bedroom. That's when they came up, took the pictures, and shut down the water. My mother doesn't speak English and was not able to communicate with them. He claimed that he saw her washing clothes, but it was really just towels that were left to dry).

I came home and another guy (unsure if it's the same guy earlier, I never got to see him) arrived with a security guard at 4:00 PM. He claims that we caused damage to an additional 3 units (aside from the first one) below us, telling us again and again that we should get insurance as we would be held responsible. I told him that if they want us to claim any insurance that he would need to send someone to check the pipes. He said that they would send someone tomorrow around 10 AM.

The next day, we waited for a couple of hours and no one came. When I went down to talk to the management, they said they were never told to come to our unit and says they would come at 1:30 PM. While we were talking, they kept telling me that because we had water on the floor and water in buckets, that we are liable for the damage. He then showed me the pictures he took (the pictures from 11 AM the previous day). The pictures showed the wet floor and 3 buckets, two of which were empty, and the other filled with water in the bathtub. I told them that water damage could have been caused by a potential leak from the toilet, but they refused to listen. I asked to hire a plumber and they agreed, as long as I pay for it myself. I told them not to come up anymore.



Luckily we have 2 washrooms (master bdr and guest) so we still have one left.



To be clear, my mom was mopping because she noticed water coming from the bathroom and into her bedroom. That's when they came up, took the pictures, and shut down the water. My mother doesn't speak English and was not able to communicate with them. What he claimed to be her washing clothes were just towels being left to dry.



Main Points

- They heavily implied that we should be held responsible solely because they saw my mother mopping the floor and washing clothes.


- The leaks that first occurred in one of the units below us was at 4 AM, when we were asleep and not using water.


- Large amounts of water never reach the floor. Things like moppings, air-drying clothes, and washing clothes would all be done in the bathtub.


- I don't think that the pictures would be enough evidence to hold us liable for the damages, nor for negligence.


- Because we have never had any issues, we never got insurance.

-I feel like some water in the washroom shouldn't leak to 5 different units unless there is a piping issue,


I read a lot of different scenarios on other posts but it's usually from the POV of the unit that was being damaged.

I'm most upset because rather than trying to come up with a solution or trying to work things out, they proceed to push all the blame on us. I have no problem paying for the damages if we truly are responsible, but I think it's important that we're 100% sure that we are before making any payments.

My questions:


- If we don't have a copy of the bylaw, can we request it from them?

- Can we request them to check the piping with a plumber or do we have to cover that ourselves? (We don't mind paying if necessary)

- I read a lot that they have to prove negligence on our part in order to hold us liable. As I stated earlier, it's simply pictures of two empty buckets and one full bucket of water in the bathtub. Is that enough evidence to blame it on us?

- If the water is from the leaking of the toilet, are we responsible for the damage despite us not being aware?

- If we are responsible, what costs do we have to pay?

- Should we hire a lawyer?

- What do we need to do now?
23 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
9231 posts
2262 upvotes
A good plumber should be able to pinpoint the leak and of course offer an opinion. There is a chance that over time when using the toilet due to movement and weight put on it, that the water pipe connection to the toilet could've come lose and is leaking or the wax/rubber ring under the toilet has worn out. If there is a leak from your bathroom this would most likely be suspect.

Don't get angry for what I'm going to say next as I have personally experienced this with my own parents. There is a chance that your mother/father could've knocked over a bucket of water in the bathroom while cleaning and perhaps tried to clean it up with the towels that are now wet. Don't expect her/him to tell you the truth as she/he knows that you'll probably be mad as hell. Seniors have trouble lifting things and are terrified of their kids yelling at them and so you will never get the truth - that's why in many cases I just don't ask them what happened.

The plumber should be able to verify your fixtures and whether they are faulty. If they are not faulty and the unit above you can be proven to not be at fault and they can prove from the unit below that the water has come from above, then you might have a situation mentioned in the second paragraph above. I would agree at the very minimum the building should pickup the costs for the plumber to diagnose because if there is a problem they can't just leave it like this. However, if they can prove the water came from your unit, even without there being a faulty fixture, they'll probably expect you to pay the plumber due to an assumption of paragraph two above.
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Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
9231 posts
2262 upvotes
You can request a copy of the condo bylaws from your condo board and they may even be on a website should your building have one.

As for requesting a plumber, they will probably send up a maintenance guy and if he makes a determination that a plumber isn't necessary, your only options will be to escalate it to someone higher up or hire the plumber yourself and try and get it reimbursed from the condo management (still difficult to do unless the fault can be proven to be somewhere else).

The buckets and partially wet floor may be circumstantial but having the unit above you dry and the unit below yours wet is as good as a smoking gun. If this can be attributed to a faulty fixture then you might be off the hook. No faulty fixtures, then it will be assumed that someone may have literally kicked (accidentally knocked over) the bucket causing the damage to the units below.

If the water is leaking from the toilet you could argue why didn't the person who came up the first time to tell you didn't diagnose it and repair it then? Thus preventing the damage to all the other units? They should've taken some action once they became aware of it. This would be your best option and hopefully the toilet can be found to be leaking.

If you are found responsible they will expect you to pay all costs to remedy the situation.

As for legal support check out https://www.legalline.ca. You can also contact the Law Society of Upper Canada on twitter and Facebook and ask for guidance there as well.

I really do hope that things will work out for you. Try your best to be calm when dealing with this.
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Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11982 posts
7135 upvotes
Paris
Others advice seems dead on. Your thought to pay this out of pocket as you dont have insurance could easily run into $100k+ depending on how much damage and you particular bylaws.

I would bet very good money your bylaws say you need to have insurance.
Sr. Member
Jan 7, 2013
828 posts
499 upvotes
Oshawa, Ontario
I don't have much to add, beyond you have insurance for the unexpected problems. Hope the damage was only minor drywall.

"Because we have never had any issues, we never got insurance"
Deal Addict
Sep 21, 2011
1815 posts
519 upvotes
Condos are shite get the f out , you don’t live in mondeo dr by any chance, tried to pull the same shit. Own house own problems that all I can say get the f out of condos or anywhere you pay maintenance fees.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Mar 9, 2007
15006 posts
11534 upvotes
Think of the Childre…
You live in a Condo and don't even have insurance? Well..........I don't know what to say.

WOULD SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!
Deal Addict
User avatar
Feb 17, 2015
1149 posts
1492 upvotes
90.00° N, 135.00° W
Hopefully the units that were affected have insurances. If they found out that it is really your fault, they might ask you to pay for their deductible which varies in amount.

You took the risk of not paying insurance for 13 years. The money you have saved in 13 years hopefully does not surpass the amount you have to pay in total bec. of this. You have to accept the consequence of not having insurance.

Hope you learned your lesson.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote
Frankie3s wrote: A good plumber should be able to pinpoint the leak and of course offer an opinion. There is a chance that over time when using the toilet due to movement and weight put on it, that the water pipe connection to the toilet could've come lose and is leaking or the wax/rubber ring under the toilet has worn out. If there is a leak from your bathroom this would most likely be suspect.

Don't get angry for what I'm going to say next as I have personally experienced this with my own parents. There is a chance that your mother/father could've knocked over a bucket of water in the bathroom while cleaning and perhaps tried to clean it up with the towels that are now wet. Don't expect her/him to tell you the truth as she/he knows that you'll probably be mad as hell. Seniors have trouble lifting things and are terrified of their kids yelling at them and so you will never get the truth - that's why in many cases I just don't ask them what happened.

The plumber should be able to verify your fixtures and whether they are faulty. If they are not faulty and the unit above you can be proven to not be at fault and they can prove from the unit below that the water has come from above, then you might have a situation mentioned in the second paragraph above. I would agree at the very minimum the building should pickup the costs for the plumber to diagnose because if there is a problem they can't just leave it like this. However, if they can prove the water came from your unit, even without there being a faulty fixture, they'll probably expect you to pay the plumber due to an assumption of paragraph two above.
Hi,

Thanks for answering. I definitely considered that it could be my parents as well, not closing shower curtains, spilling water, etc... However, we were all asleep the first time that the security guard came up at 4 am to notify us of the leak and I didn't see any evidence of water spilling over. If anything, the filled buckets were in the bathtub (they use it to wash their body sometimes) when they took the pictures and the other ones were dry.

I really want to find an outside plumber to take a look at it but the water is shut down and I don't know if it would be much help. They already expect us to pay for their plumber by requiring us to give them a fat $500 safety deposit cheque.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote
Frankie3s wrote: You can request a copy of the condo bylaws from your condo board and they may even be on a website should your building have one.

As for requesting a plumber, they will probably send up a maintenance guy and if he makes a determination that a plumber isn't necessary, your only options will be to escalate it to someone higher up or hire the plumber yourself and try and get it reimbursed from the condo management (still difficult to do unless the fault can be proven to be somewhere else).

The buckets and partially wet floor may be circumstantial but having the unit above you dry and the unit below yours wet is as good as a smoking gun. If this can be attributed to a faulty fixture then you might be off the hook. No faulty fixtures, then it will be assumed that someone may have literally kicked (accidentally knocked over) the bucket causing the damage to the units below.

If the water is leaking from the toilet you could argue why didn't the person who came up the first time to tell you didn't diagnose it and repair it then? Thus preventing the damage to all the other units? They should've taken some action once they became aware of it. This would be your best option and hopefully the toilet can be found to be leaking.

If you are found responsible they will expect you to pay all costs to remedy the situation.

As for legal support check out https://www.legalline.ca. You can also contact the Law Society of Upper Canada on twitter and Facebook and ask for guidance there as well.

I really do hope that things will work out for you. Try your best to be calm when dealing with this.
Hi,

Thanks for replying!

We have requested a a soft copy of bylaws from them. Hopefully they respond?

They are trying to put the blame on us mainly based on the buckets. I feel like even if some water were spilled on the floor it wouldn't spread to multiple units and floors without a piping issue.

That's a good point. They definitely didn't do anything but take pictures.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote
Jerico wrote: Others advice seems dead on. Your thought to pay this out of pocket as you dont have insurance could easily run into $100k+ depending on how much damage and you particular bylaws.

I would bet very good money your bylaws say you need to have insurance.
Hi,

Thank you for replying.

I'm definitely scared of the amount of damage it could be. I'm trying to get a copy of the bylaws but they aren't really cooperating as I feel like they're trying to prolong this as long as possible.

I don't think insurance is required by Ontario but this is definitely a lesson.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote
Shaidin wrote: I don't have much to add, beyond you have insurance for the unexpected problems. Hope the damage was only minor drywall.

"Because we have never had any issues, we never got insurance"
Hi,

Thanks for replying.

Yeah, this is a lesson for the future for sure. Always be prepared.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote
shawn01 wrote: Condos are shite get the f out , you don’t live in mondeo dr by any chance, tried to pull the same shit. Own house own problems that all I can say get the f out of condos or anywhere you pay maintenance fees.
Hi,

Thanks for replying.

Not mondeo Dr but for privacy reasons, I'll just say it's a condo somewhere in Scarborough. Yeah, I feel like maintenance fees go up every year but somehow more problems seem to appear. :/

We've been wanting to buy a house but couldn't find the right one for the right price.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote
Cheapo-Findo wrote: You live in a Condo and don't even have insurance? Well..........I don't know what to say.
Hi,

Thanks for replying.

I don't think it was mandatory to get insurance and to be honest, we've been living in and out of different condos with no problems at all. If it was just one unit downstairs, we wouldn't mind paying for the trouble but they said that there are damage to 5-6 units and we don't understand how a simple spill can cause that much damage.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 16, 2020
6 posts
1 upvote
CuriousJack wrote: Hopefully the units that were affected have insurances. If they found out that it is really your fault, they might ask you to pay for their deductible which varies in amount.

You took the risk of not paying insurance for 13 years. The money you have saved in 13 years hopefully does not surpass the amount you have to pay in total bec. of this. You have to accept the consequence of not having insurance.

Hope you learned your lesson.
Hi,

Thanks for your reply.

Yeah, this is definitely a valuable lesson. We don't really mind paying for the amounts if we are really responsible (hopefully just the deductible) but we don't think it's just to blame us and to hold us responsible without any actions.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 13, 2010
7612 posts
1683 upvotes
Scarborough
I thought the floors have concrete so how the **** does water go all the way down to 5 units?
I think its bullshit

Screw insurance
In my buddy’s old condo an old lady’s unit flooded completely (very senior and she forgot to close tap when they did water shutdown for maintenance) so the unit beliw got damaged
Guess what she only had to pay around 800 or so the bill to fix unit below by mgmt etc
Only thing is she had to do her own flooring again but no insurance

In her case insurance would cost more
Many people dont have it these days as insurance companies try to wiggle out of everything to not pay or pay little

Shit happen but if there’s someone at home all day and night simply be careful and check stuff regularly for maintenance
Good luck
Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
11982 posts
7135 upvotes
Paris
apnayloags wrote: Many people dont have it these days as insurance companies try to wiggle out of everything to not pay or pay little
It’s a requirement if you have a mortgage and in many condos and townhouses. I don’t think your statement is accurate.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 20, 2018
7276 posts
6450 upvotes
apnayloags wrote: I thought the floors have concrete so how the **** does water go all the way down to 5 units?
I think its bullshit

Screw insurance
In my buddy’s old condo an old lady’s unit flooded completely (very senior and she forgot to close tap when they did water shutdown for maintenance) so the unit beliw got damaged
Guess what she only had to pay around 800 or so the bill to fix unit below by mgmt etc
Only thing is she had to do her own flooring again but no insurance

In her case insurance would cost more
Many people dont have it these days as insurance companies try to wiggle out of everything to not pay or pay little

Shit happen but if there’s someone at home all day and night simply be careful and check stuff regularly for maintenance
Good luck
Concrete slabs but how do you think pipes and etc get run ?

There's openings for pipes, hvac etc and water can easily go down floors from water that gets in through the gaps under a toilet
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
6576 posts
3732 upvotes
Toronto
LeonW13107 wrote: - I read a lot that they have to prove negligence on our part in order to hold us liable. As I stated earlier, it's simply pictures of two empty buckets and one full bucket of water in the bathtub. Is that enough evidence to blame it on us?

- If the water is from the leaking of the toilet, are we responsible for the damage despite us not being aware?
What they might argue is that they tried to make you aware that there was water leaking from your unit, you didn't do anything to investigate or prevent it, and that's the point that you became negligent. They could say that a reasonable person, upon being told that there's a leak into the unit below, would turn off their water at the mains and call a plumber to investigate, i.e. it's not your fault that the leak started (if it's from the toilet), but it's your fault for not stopping the leak once notified that there was likely to be one.

At this point, get a plumber and figure out what the problem is, and go from there.

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