Who Pays the Bill for Frozen Pipes?
Recently, there have been a flood (no pun intended) of phone calls and emails to our office related to frozen pipes in condominiums. Because of the nature of construction in many condominiums coupled with the polar vortex temperatures this winter, many pipes are freezing and as a result, water leaks into the common elements and the interior of the units.
Who is responsible for payment of repairs and should the board or property manager file a claim with the associations insurance? Generally, repairs and payment of costs related to frozen pipes with be applied as follows:
- If the leak in the pipe is in a portion of the pipe that serves only that Unit, then that repair to the pipe will be the Unit owner’s responsibility;
- If the leak in the pipe is in a portion of the pipe that serves more than one Unit or is in a main line, then that repair to the pipe will be the association’s responsibility;
- If the amount of the damage to the Unit and common elements is less than the association’s insurance deductible, then the Unit owner will need to contact their HO6 insurance carrier and file a claim in order to take care of the repairs to the components of the Unit and any personal property. If there are damages to the common elements, the association will take care of payment and repairs to those common element damages;
- If the amount of damage is over the association’s insurance deductible, generally the association’s insurance will take care of the repairs and costs for repairs to the components of the Unit and common elements with the Unit owner taking care of any damages to personal property within the Unit, such as furniture, artwork, and other personal belongings.
- The deductible will then be apportioned between the percentage of damage to the Unit and the common elements. For instance, if 80% of the damage is to the common elements and 20% of the damage is to the Unit, the Unit owner pays 20% of the deductible and the association will pay 80% of the deductible.
Please note that the above must be verified with checking the provisions within the declaration for your condominium. Provisions related to Unit components, association insurance and maintenance and repair obligations are critical to getting the correct information for your community. Please be sure to contact us if you have any questions related to frozen pipes or water leaks within your community.
Ms. Strohm has been practicing law since 2004 and is a principal of the firm Williams & Strohm, LLC. As a member of the Ohio and Columbus Bar Associations, she is admitted to practice in all Ohio courts and the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Read Robin Strohm's full bio.