New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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When the Board Causes a Leak

Tarter Krinsky & Drogin
Steven Troup, Partner


In a large co-op we represent, a unit-owner purchased a penthouse unit and applied for the board’s consent to gut-renovate it. All parties were aware that there were sporadic roof leaks into the unit at that time. The board agreed to make repairs prior to the start of construction. The roof was patched and the unit-owner did the renovation. About six months later, during a massive storm, water again penetrated the roof into the apartment, causing substantial damage to the unit owner’s improvements and personal property. The board shortly thereafter completed a long-planned roof replacement. The roof is now leak-free. However, the unit-owner has sued the board for damages to the apartment caused by that leak.

Legal Lesson

Patching a roof is obviously not as good as replacement. Since the replacement project had long been planned, thus demonstrating that the board was aware that the existing roof had weakness(es), it would have been better to await the replacement rather than patching before authorizing the construction to begin.

However, the board had tried to accommodate a new shareholder’s desire to move in as quickly as possible.

Hindsight is, of course, 20-20. The board is insured, and may or may not have recourse against the contractor that performed the patch job, but the litigation creates additional expenses and diverts attention from more positive things

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