“Generally speaking, the unit owner is responsible for pipes within the unit. So if a pipe that you could see under the sink was leaking, the unit owner would be responsible for fixing it. However, the pipes within the walls are usually the responsibility of the building, because they are part of the structure of the building. This is why insurance companies always ask to see the Offering Plans and bylaws of condominiums when claims are reported to them. They want to know who is supposed to be responsible legally.
“The next question is what was going on in the unit above your aunt ? Were they renovating or did this just randomly occur ? If it had something to do with a renovation, there might be insurance to cover it. If it randomly occurred and was due to a maintenance issue with the unit owner above, that party still might be responsible legally, even if there was no applicable insurance. The fact that the building opened the wall in your aunt’s unit makes me wonder if that was a side issue unrelated to the leak. Many buildings have old risers which are in need of replacement. I can’t tell if those were the pipes that were looked at, but if they were, sometimes buildings try to “kill two birds with one stone” and have both issues fixed at the same time. In other words, the fact that pipes in her unit are old and rusty may have nothing to do with the leak from above, but they may be using it as an excuse to get her to update the risers.
“You might want to have someone come in to view the problem on your aunt’s behalf. You might want to do this in conjunction with an attorney who knows this area of the law. I often help clients to sort out these kinds of issues and the responsibility for them.”