Water Leakage from Unit above Mine (No Home Insurance)

Abstract:

A tenant of the unit above me got drunk, slept in the shower. Water flooded everywhere and damaged my property. I need a place to stay while my unit is being dried. I was unable to contact body Corp because it was out of office hours. Property manager of the unit above me declined to pay hotel fee for me and claimed it should be paid by insurance of body Corp. I'm not sure if body Corp will do that because the tenant caused the issue not faulty of the building itself. Any suggestions for me?

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Hi all, I was hoping to get some advice about happened to me yesterday morning.

So apparently tenant of the unit above me got drunk last Friday night, came back home, had a shower and fell asleep in the shower.

I was told by my neighbour and staff who came to my unit later to dry up my home that somehow she covered drainage while sleeping in the shower of master bedroom and the water flooded into master bedroom and kitchen area.

I was woken up by water dripping noise yesterday morning around 5 AM. I initially thought I was getting rain through my master bedroom window but water was dripping from the ceiling. It damped carpet partially. I brought a container to collect water to prevent further damages to my carpet.

But I soon found out one of side walk in rode was totally soaked in water and bottom of furniture already absorbed water.

Kitchen floor was flooded with water. I had to use a towel and a bucket to remove water so many times.

Second bedroom carpet was partially damped and bottom part of my computer desk absorbed water as well.

Because it was still early in the morning I didn't want to disturb my neighbours. So I left a letter under door of my next door and the unit above mine. Next door neighbour had not noticed any leakage but told me she would let me know if she finds any issues later when she comes back home.

Luckily another neighbour noticed severe water leakage from ceiling of garage on ground floor. He was smart enough to check water meters of each unit found that water meter of the unit above of mine was running fast. He managed to turn off the water for the unit.

When I and he visited the unit above mine the tenant opened her unit door slightly so I could only see her partially. She said she just got up. I showed photos and videos of the situation in my unit and asked if she had the same issue. She denied it but said "I'm so sorry". I thought she was just sorry for what I was going to through.

I tried to contact my body Corp but it went to voice mail which was already full. I contacted on call plumber's number I got from the body Corp but it went to voicemail as well.

When I tried again the manager of plumbing company said it would cost $500 and someone has to pay on the day. Just to ensure the tenant would be happy to pay I called her back and she said landlord was there.

The landlord was apologetic and said he had already hired someone to bring blowers and dryers to fix the issue. Although the tenant to me her unit was fine when I entered the unit this time I noticed that her living room was flooded and there were towels and a big bucket in the living room. Landlord to me he would pay to dry my unit and also cover electricity bill for using the machines in my unit. I thanked him for being nice and also told him I don't want to blame anyone but just want it to get fixed. I asked his direct contact number but a lady who claimed to be manager of the property gave me her number instead.

Soon after 2 guys came to visit my unit to assess current situation and told me it would take 4 to 6 days to complete the process to dry my unit and it would not be a liveable place to stay.

So I contacted the manager of the unit above. Not like when I saw her in person she sounded cold and showed no sympathy for what I was going through. When I asked her if she would be happy to cover if I book a hotel to stay she told me like she would not pay for me but it should be covered by insurance of body Corp.
But since it's not a faulty of the building itself but the tenant caused the problem I thought it should be paid by landlord of the unit. I asked her direct contact number of the landlord but she declined and said like she was the person I was supposed to talk to.

I later found out the tenant of a daughter of the landlord as well.

I've never experienced anything like this in my life and did not sign up home insurance.

When something like this happens is body Corp supposed to cover hotel fee for me like she said? Other neighbour doesn't believe body Corp would do that but would take legal action against the landlord of the unit because this incident did not just damage my property but 2 more units ( my next door and the unit above my next door) and other shared areas and something related to electricity and emergency as well.

Manager of the cleaning company asked my permission to drill holes on kick board of kitchen to create air flow otherwise it will get mould soon. He told me that body corp will cover the fee and I don't even need to notify the body Corp from my memory.

I think it's unfair for me to experience this. I had to spend my time on Saturday morning to wipe my floor and had to leave my home. I thought the landlord was genuinely sorry but after the phone call with the property manager I think I should fight my rights.
I don't want to be greedy but after the drying process is done should I hire someone to assess my unit again? I think even if my unit appears to be dry enough the space between mine and the unit above may be still damped and it would a matter of time to notice moulds in my unit.

I've sent an email to body Corp Corp the other neighbour had sent an email to them as well as it will affect our building.

My neighbour told me if she were me she would change carpets affected and even get a new kitchen at the cost of landlord of the unit above.

Can someone kindly tell me my options please?
Should I hire a lawyer? If so will the landlord pay the cost of hiring a lawyer if I win the case?
My friend suggested me to tell the property manager that if she is not co operative I will take her to "fair trade".

I just want to have a drama free live and stay in my unit like I used to do but it seems like unless I speak up I won't get what I am entitled.

Please help me!

Comments

  • +3

    Yep, definitely need a TL;DR.

    • Sorry what's TL;DR?

      • Too Long; Didn't Read

        • Ah.. I will try to make it short

          • @kimyongjeon: Don't edit the post.

            Just make a brief summary of the post at the start.

            tl;dr blah blah blah

  • Can you go through body corporate insurance?

    To be fair I didn't read the whole post. It is very very long and not a single picture.

    • Because it happened on the weekend I couldn't contact any of them :(

      • Call 9am tomorrow or get body corporate manager to call asap

        • Thank you MS Paint I will do that!

      • There should be an emergency contact number.

        • Body Corp Voice mail was already full and ni one picked up insurance number 🥲🥲

    • +2

      tennant caused the damage - was not as a result of faulty pipes etc. So not a BC issue, and they will not be willingly claiming it on their insurance

      • Dang!

      • That's what I thought too

  • are you a tenant or an owner

    • +1

      I'm an owner occupier

      • do you have a copy of the body corp insurance, or what the strata fees cover

        • Thank you I will try to find it

  • +1

    I don't believe it's body corporate that you need to talk to.

    If they can't find the fault/issues then body corporate may step in. But in this case it seems the unit above is at fault.

    It's the other tenant/landlord's that's at fault and hence you'll need to talk to them/their insurance.

    https://www.domain.com.au/news/who-pays-when-a-strata-unit-g...

    Also, you need to get contents insurance in the future. It'll make your life a lot easier

    • Thank you very much. The link is very informative.
      Wish I knew that it wasn't that expensive to get contents insurance.

      • Depends on the contents…

        • It's mainly carpet. Some walls. Kick board of kitchen has multiple holes now. And a few furniture absorbed water

  • +1

    Collect all invoices/receipts/evidence. Make sure they're reasonable costs incurred to bring your unit/assets back to previous state. Then:

    1) Read PDS twice. Look over your benefits, etc. Claim on your insurance.

    2) If no insurance, then best to talk to a lawyer, especially if they refuse to pay. It sucks and sounds mean to involve lawyers but they want to play hardball.

    • Thank so for your advice Orangetrain. I think I will need a lawyer as I have no home insurance

    • Surely it would be Small Claims court? I don't think there are any lawyers involved?

      You could go to one of those free legal advice places, do they still do those? My local library used to do it for couple hours a week

  • This is not the landlords responsibility, it is the tenants. At one point you talk about the property manager, but later about the landlord. Is this the same person?

    In any case, if the cause of the damage is as you claim, you need to be demanding restitution from the tenant. Might need a lawyer.

    Even if the tenant is the daughter, this doesn’t really change things assuming there is a proper lease in place.

    • Thanks for your comment cjbowden.
      Apparently…
      -tenant: daughter
      -landlord: father
      -property mananger: Middle aged woman. I think she said like she was not mother of tenant.

      My neighbour told me I should talk to the landlord and ask for compensation ( in this case because I don't have his number and property manager told me to talk to her) and landlord should ask money to the tenant.

      I will contact body Corp this morning and if they don't want to get involved much I should talk to a lawyer I guess. Thanks again!

  • +1

    I've never experienced anything like this in my life and did not sign up home insurance.

    End thread

    • Amen to that. Mortgages require the owner to keep insurance against the property normally but maybe it’s a different situation when it’s an apartment.

  • +2

    Without insurance to fight your battles for you, you need to do it all yourself. I would recommend

    • keep detailed logs of all communications with anyone related to this incident.
    • keep detailed receipts of all expenses incurred
    • once everything is fixed and returned to the state it was prior to damage, send a letter of demand to the property manager of the unit above with a clear date by which you expect the amount to be paid to you. Note, you can really only claim to bring items back to the previous state - not new. Some insurance policies provide new replacement, but you dont have insurance.
    • if they fail to pay up, take them to VCAT - no lawyers needed for this. State your case with all the documentation you have kept and let the judge decide.
    • +1

      …and take out insurance from now on.

    • basically, get ready to take them to NCAT/court or whatever state youre in

      • Yes I think I should. Thanks for your comment WT

    • Thank you so much for your answer. I may seek legal advice to ensure I do everything I can. Thanks again!

  • +3

    Im on the strata committee of my large complex, given your story, its not body corp’s responsibility to pay up. But it is body corps responsibility to coordinate the process of insurance claims etc of ur behalf. It is 100% the responsibility of the unit owner above you. Given the extent of damage, you could potentially get yourself a new kitchen, but it would be subsidised by the insurance of the unit above. A similar situation has happened to 2of our tenants, you will most likely not be able to have a new accommodation paid for while the repairs are being done. That will have to be out of pocket. It will be a headache for a few weeks/months, but persist and always have body corp help u out… thats wat they’re getting paid for

    • Thanks for your comment tabitha731. I wish the property manager did not act that way. All I wanted was getting the issues solved and move on but after the phone call with her I don't feel the same way anymore and want to protect my rights as a victim. Thank you again!

    • Yeah the body corp would not be paying, since it isn't a fault with the building's common plumbing

    • It may differ with insurance policies, but one of my neighbours was in the same situation as OP before when shower water leaked through the ceiling one night when we were all sitting around. For health and safety reasons, they were advised by building management that they couldn't stay in the apartment as it was classified as a 'hazard' and they had to move to a nearby serviced apartment. They cut out and replaced the ceiling as well as the carpets. They were out for about two months. It took about a year, but insurance paid up for everything including the accommodation when the claim was settled.

  • +1

    Perhaps you and the other affected neighbours should co-ordinate the approach to getting compensation

    • Good point Kiitos. I've mentioned to my next door but will talk to the other person next door of the unit above me too.

  • As you are an owner, you are a member of the OC, as would be the owner of the property above. Have a look at previous OC correspondence, minutes of the meeting invite, etc to see if you can find the landlord’s email. Send them an email. Check with OC, they might help you contact the owner. Because, that would mean that they are off the hook.

  • +1

    Contact Dept. Of Fair Trading. The tenant needs to be accountable for her actions and compensate you accordingly. I hate people who do this then show no empathy to your situation, just so wrong.

    • Me too, if I had damaged a neighbours property, even in the slightest, I'd be a falling over fixing it ASAP

    • Thank you 82norm. I visited department of fair trade yesterday and was advised to visit department of body Corp instead and got some advice re: thus matter. Thank you do your empathy. That's what I wanted from the property manager 🤣🤣

  • +2

    Lots of speculation and stuff … but to try and focus it in a little bit …

    Contact the property manager and ask her for their insurance details as you will be making a claim against the land lords insurance (not your insurance, you didn't cause the damage) …

    Get the strata company involved, they should be involved to keep the property manager honest and worst case scenario, they should have a 'sinking fund' - emergency cash, that can assist …

    Their landlord may want to just hire people to dry it out, but you're going to need insurance to fix things - so focus on that

  • Definitely nothing to do with strata / body corporate. They do not deal with water issues within the apartments unless its a fault with communal plumbing and/or supply. Drainage from the apartment is debatable, usually its the owners problem.

    I had an issue where i had a slow leak in my (double brick) bathroom but we had no way of knowing whether it was my plumbing or something coming from an above apartment. Strata was not helpful at all, they essentially refused to do anything except supply a plumber to investigate and they immediately threw the cost of that plumber back to me anyway when the checks were inconclusive

    In the end we renovated the entire bathroom + apartment when the tenants got fed up with the damp floor and left (fair enough)

  • Sounds like it's going to be an expensive night on the p15s for the tenant above.

  • +1

    I'm in Qld but I imagine these issues would be the same in all states. Building must be insured by Body Corporate, Owners Corporation or whatever it's called.

    Water damage is covered by the insurance. It doesn't matter where the water comes from or whose fault it was unless the issue was already known about and there was serious negligence not fixing it before the damage was done.

    Building insurance covers any damage to the building including permanent fixtures such a kitchens. I think carpet would be included but not 100% sure on that.

    It's a clear case of building insurance pays all costs including accommodation (but not furniture).

    • Thanks for your comment Hepcat2. Yes body Corp seems reasonably handle this matter so far. I just that everything goes back to what it used to be as much as possible so I can relax at home 🥲

  • Shouldn’t the bathroom have adequate drainage outside of the shower in the general bathroom area?

    This is really a design fault with the building

    • Maybe it was covered by a bath mat 🙄🙄

  • +3

    I am assuming that you are an owner occupier of your unit. if you are a tenant, forget what I'm saying.

    I own a ground floor unit that's been flooded twice in the last 10 years due to negligence of owners on upper levels.

    You need to report the flood and water damage to the strata manager and tell them you want to submit an insurance claim.

    Strata insurance always has a provision in it for owner occupiers to be provided compensation for alternative accommodation if your unit becomes uninhabitable through no fault of your own.

    You need to deal with the strata manager and insurer and they can liaise with the owner of the unit upstairs and his insurer if he has one. A lot of unit owners do not have any other insurance like landlords insurance, its better if strata pursue him for compensation.

    Dont tell them a story like you posted here. Keep it short and sweet.
    Say only this…there was a flood, there is extensive water damage to your unit, your unit is uninhabitable. You spoke to the owner of the unit above and they admitted responsibility but you don't know exactly what happened.

    Dont elaborate on any of that story. You weren't there so you don't know what really happened upstairs, you only know what they told you. Let the strata manager investigate.

    Only facts, extensive water damage, carpets ruined, ceilings damaged, walls damaged, furniture damaged, water damage has warped kitchen cupboards etc etc.

    Noone else will be able to help you except the strata manager.

    • I already sent an email last night 🥲🥲 but I will make it short next time!! Thank you very much for your answer ;)

  • +1

    Hi @kimyongjeon
    Seeing as the landlord was the good/friendly person, I would try to get his details. The property manager won't give you them, but maybe you can go to the tenant and get her to give them to you. Try quickly before the tenant moves out!
    If he is good and the father then he will probably pay your hotel. Call him and say that the workmen he sent told you you must leave for 6 days and the property manager won't pay the hotel so can he pay it.
    Probably don't ask about the other stuff. Maybe body Corp will get repairs done and charge his insurers, who knows, get him to agree the hotel and then go back to him later if you need to on other things. Don't ask for too much to start.
    PS if they do really dry your place for 4-6 days it should be an OK job. Doesnt sound like cowboys. You can go back to your place to check what they're doing and how many blowers they have etc.
    TAKE PHOTOS OF EVERYTHING now, during and after to prove what was wet etc. Just incase you need them.

    • Thank you for your advice Webber's. I managed to contact insurance guy from bodycorp and booked a hotel last night. Yes the property manager lady texted me like it's being handled by the bodycorp insurance. She didn't seem to care. So I requested bodycorp to provide me details of the landlord instead yesterday afternoon. Yes I took lots of photos and videos from day 1 of the flood. I'm going back to inspect my unit this morning again with an insurance guy hired by body Corp

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