Q&A: Board Negligence on Leak

Q I reside in a co-op apartment in the Bronx. For one year I incurred damages to my bathroom and kitchen ceilings from a washing machine above. The damage allegedly came from a negligent tenant of the shareholder. Each time the leak occurred the co-op board was notified. However, nothing was done to rectify the situation. I want to sue the shareholder for the damages. Under the proprietary lease can the co-op board be held responsible as well?

—Soaked Shareholder

A “The board has an obligation to require a shareholder who is causing damages whether to the building or other apartments to abate and repair the condition,” says Dennis H. Greenstein, a partner at the Manhattan law office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. “The repeated leaks must be cured by the shareholder and failing to do so, proprietary leases generally have a provision which authorizes the board and its agents to enter an apartment, cure the problem and charge the shareholder for the costs and expenses if they are the result of the act or omission of the shareholder. They generally further provide that the board and its agents may enter on reasonable notice or with no notice in the case of an emergency to make the repairs. Since the board had notice of the leaks and failed to take the necessary action, the board may be found to have been negligent and in breach of its fiduciary obligations.

“The letter writer may have a claim against the corporation for a breach of the warranty of habitability which if successful could result in an abatement of a portion of the maintenance until the problem has been cured. Additionally, if the letter writer has insurance for his or her apartment, he or she should prompt notify their insurance company of each occurrence.”

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  • Apt. bldg. going condo. Purchased condo. Upstairs renter never on premises before purchase was made. Moved in to condo. Renter home from work. Comstantly paces floor and the floors squeek so bad, cannot go to sleep. Reported it to Assoc. many times, nothing done. Getting totally stressed out.
  • Althea, I feel your pain. We have major footfall from upstairs. Children bounce back and forth all day. Have complained same as you. The co-op sponcer first agree they needed carpeting, then retracted. Now upstairs nieghbor got voted into the board, plus his cousin who also lives in the building.
  • board member negligence, in Queens coop apartment, ceiling is been leaking for years..