Water Damage and Negligence

June 2022

Water damage can occur because of activities within a home beyond anyone’s control.  Even when there is no negligence, residents are responsible for events in their home affecting common areas and other units.

In 2018, the float in a bathroom toilet tank was replaced.  Soon after, it developed a crack.  The owners left the country for an extended period and had a family member visit the unit bi-weekly.

During this time a leak from the toilet occurred.  A plumber, hired by the corporation, identified the cause of this leak to be a damaged ballcock which caused the toilet tank to constantly fill and overflow.  This caused damage to the unit and lower-level hallways.  Repair cost was approximately $5,500, less than the corporation’s insurance deductible and thus payable by the owner.

A lien, registered against the unit for the cost of repair and legal fees, was paid under protest.

The owner argued there was no lawful right to charge back the repair cost because an “act or omission” did not occur.  Repairs were made when the problem was identified.  They could not be held financially responsible because damage was not deliberate.

The court ruled that an unforeseen incident does not absolve a unit owner from financial responsibility for repair costs.  They determined that an act or omission does not have to be negligent to make an owner liable for repair costs.  Even when unaware that a unit component is broken, there remains an obligation to repair it and be responsible for damages.

Insurance offers protection against unexpected incidents.  In-home water detection systems, such as those offered by BuildingLink Aware and WATERSHIELD, can identify leaks sooner.  Faster detection facilitates quicker repairs, minimizing damage and repair costs while reducing insurance costs.