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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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Drain pipe leaking into apartmentsSep 10, 2021

There is a drain pipe that has been leaking into our garage since early July. The management put buckets under the leak to catch the water. They never came to inspect apartments running along the pipe. This holiday weekend I noticed water damage on my kitchen wall and ceiling that the pipe runs alongside. My ceiling is brown, paint bubbling and water dripping. The manager called me on Sunday as I left a message with service and I told her my ceiling has water damage and I was told the super will be back on Tuesday and will call me to come look. Tuesday I take off work to be home and super never shows up, I find out at noon from the Porter that he didn't come to work and nobody called or notified me. Wednesday I stop at the management office and the woman in charge is defensive when I complain about not being notified that she wasn't in because of Jewish holiday and didnt know that super was out but she had left him a note and I should have called the office. Today is Friday, 6 days since management has been notified and I have heard nothing about what they are doing to fix this pipe. They have allowed this leak to continue for 2 months and now I feel there is mold growing on my ceiling and they are in no rush to address it. It is still leaking. Is this not total negligence on management part? How can I deal with a property manager who doesn't want to address real problems?

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Drain pipe leaking into apartments - Steven424 Sep 10, 2021

Before going any further with the MA, I would suggest you take copious amounts of photos of every bit of damage visible. Don't just take close-ups, but take a few "establishing" shots that show the damaged area(s) in the context of each room. Make sure to include shots of the area of pipes where the water is dripping from.

Then, call your private insurance carrier (not the co-ops insurance carrier) and open a file. This will set the wheels in motion for an adjuster to visit your apartment to take their own photos and measurements. You may be asked for a copy of your proprietary lease. Give it to the adjuster.

Once the adjuster files his report, your insurance company will decide how to proceed. If the damage is truly caused by a common element (common drain pipe) you may not have anything to do as your insurance will handle it.

What you shouldn't do is wait any longer to contact your insurance company. Two months is a long time to go unreported, and if there is mold you need to have it taken care of right away.

Good Luck!

--- Steve, a/k/a The Borg

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Drain pipe leaking into apartments - emkharts Sep 11, 2021

Than you Steve for the advice. I did take many photos and a video of water raining down from the pipe into buckets in the garage directly underneath my kitchen on the day I found the damage.
I also contacted my insurance the day after the super inspected my apartment. They suggest I also contact the building inspector and threaten legal action with an attorney since the management company has been aware since July and done nothing to find the source of leak and allow apartments to sustain damage. I was told by the Super that an apartment 1 floor above in adjacent line also has damage in bathroom so the management has been aware of leaking into walls and allowed it to continue. They also suggest that the management company will try to suggest that they are only responsible for replacing the drywall even though the wall cabinet above my stove may need replacing as the damage is all along the side wall that my cabinets are attached to. That entire side wall is damaged and my stove, wall cabinets will need removal to replace it. They suggest that if I file a claim, even though it is the building responsibility, it will count against me and my premium will rise. I just changed my insurance company in June after 20 years with allstate with 0 claims. This is very frustrating as this management company does not communicate at all and believes they have no responsibility to tell me anything.

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Leaks - Pooh Sep 11, 2021

What about your board? Contact the President of the management co? I’ve contacted my management co President when I didn’t receive proper service or response?

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Drain pipe leaking into apartments - emkharts Sep 12, 2021

Thanks but the President of the management company is the person I spoke to their first time who "left a note" for the super. She is the worst person to deal with and the one who tells everyone that they are not responsible to do anything for you no matter what the issue. The board does whatever she wants. The board has been the same people for 20 years.

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drain pipe, leaking - DP Sep 12, 2021

My only suggestion is to discover WHO it is that is really standing in the way of solving your problem. Management is often slow to respond, but Management generally follows the Board's lead when it comes to spending money on repairs, etc.

BTW, this Weds. pm–Thursday is also a Jewish holiday... the most holy day on the Jewish calendar, so.......

I've had a similar experience in my coop. I moved into a beautiful gut-renovated top-floor apartment. Within a month, the rains came and every time it rained, it rained into my BR (for years). I had to lay down tarps whenever I left the apt. It took years before they fixed the roof (very expensive, no small task) and years more before they finally fixed my ceiling. I sent photos with each rain and each time the surrounding wet area grew. Now, there's a new wet spot in the LR and I don't relish starting the fight all over again, especially b/c the Board now is even worse. ; (

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Drain pipe leaking into apartments - emkharts Sep 12, 2021

Thanks. I'm sorry to hear about your issue. That sounds serious and wouldn't that be a health issue to allow your ceiling to be wet for years. Mold is serious. That is what I am worried about with my ceiling. It is brown. And I've noticed small bugs flying around lately, like gnats. I'm sure it's coming from the wetness in the ceiling.
I understand it was a big Jewish holiday this week but there are non Jewish employees in the office who should be handling things.

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Leaky roofs and drainpipes - Steven424 Sep 13, 2021

There is something called the Warranty of Habitability which basically states that the owner of a property (or in the case of a co-op, the common areas of a property) has a legal obligation to maintain what they own in habitable conditions. This includes being free of leaks and especially mold and vermin.

It sounds like the co-op boards are in violation. So what to do. I would first contact my private co-op/condo insurance carrier. Most have a provision that in the event of damage or other casualty they will pay to make your apartment habitable and then go after whoever is obligated to pay. Most likely the boards. This is a general statement and may not apply in all situations. But it is the least expensive.

The next option is to file a formal complaint with the Dept of Buildings. They'll probably send an investigator so they know what they're involvement is. This can be a very protracted process.

Your final recourse is to hire your own attorney. Expensive, but the most thorough solution. If you prevail you can probably get your attorney's fees reimbursed.

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