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    Is condo association negligent when frozen pipes burst?

    stephen polinsky on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 @ 07:55 AM


    Is a condo association responsible for damages caused by owner negligence? Last January, while a unit owner was in Florida, her furnace malfunctioned, the pipes froze then burst, causing substantial damage. The Board felt it was the owner's problem and refused to submit a claim to our insurer. A month later when the unit owner returned from Florida, we were told our President was being sued for not filing a claim. We did submit a claim, and our insurer paid over $24,000, then dropped us at renewal time. Our new policy costs more than twice the old one, and our deductible went from $2,500 to $25,000 (we are virtually self-insured). We hear from many that our bylaws probably hurt us in this case, but here's an excerpt: "All maintenance and replacement of and repairs to common areas and facilities...and the painting and decorating of the exterior side of exterior doors, [etc.] shall be a Common Expense, except to the extent that, in the the reasonable determination of the Executive Board, the same [repairs] are necessitated by the negligence, misuse or neglect of a Unit Owner, in which event such expense shall be assessed to such Unit Owner." I don't see how one could reasonably argue that the furnace malfunction that caused the frozen pipes and extensive damage was NOT due to the neglect of the unit owner in this case.

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