Saturday, August 1, 2009

Who should pay for water leaks?

THE dripping water from that ceiling can be annoying, but what can be more daunting is the amount of haggling over who pays to plug and repair it.

The authorities are clear on this: If there is an inter-floor leak, the leak is automatically presumed to have started from the upper floor unit unless its owner can prove otherwise.

The upper floor unit owner cannot claim that the leak did not originate from his apartment. He has to work with his neighbour downstairs to investigate the cause of the leak and both parties need to agree on payment for the repairs.

In 2005, the Strata Titles Board made a landmark ruling stipulating that owners of upper floor units have to foot the entire repair cost when water leaks through their floors because of wear and tear.

Until then, the practice was to get owners to split the bill so as to give upper floor unit owners an incentive to repair leaks. However, some owners exploited this by exaggerating the repair costs so as to improve the standard of their kitchen or bathroom.

Despite the ruling, the wrangling still goes on and between 80 and 90 per cent of disputes before the Strata Titles Board involve leaks.

The board's president, Mr Tan Lian Ker, observes: 'The law is clear, but they always want to fight the case. And the ones who are at fault always deny that they are responsible.'

Source: Straits Times, 1 Aug 2009

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