Ask an Expert

My neighbor won't fix his leaky bathroom, even after the board told him to. What can I do?

Share this Article

Q: I live in a co-op I bought in ’98.  Every now and then, water leaks from my upstairs neighbor’s bathroom into mine.  The super has been up there countless times to try to “re-enact” to see where it is leaking from but has been unsuccessful.  I have noticed though that generally the leaking only happens when my neighbor has out of town guests. 

Two years ago, the board decided to force him to renovate his bathroom since it has not been renovated since the 1960s.  The board resolution stated that the whole bathroom would have to be redone by an approved contractor.  The neighbor changed a few tiles on his own which did not solve the problem. 

There was a change in our management company shortly after the decision and the bathroom is still dripping into mine.  I’ve reminded the board about the resolution and they say they will take care of it, but several years later, still no relief. What should I do?

A:    First, get your hands on a copy of the resolution.  It’s unusual for a board to force someone to renovate so it would be helpful to understand more about how this came about, such as if the board were trying to avoid a lawsuit, says C. Jaye Berger, a Manhattan real estate lawyer and BrickTank expert.

If you don’t already have a copy of the resolution, you will need to visit your current managing agent’s office.

“You have the right as a shareholder to review the minutes of the Board meetings to see when they discussed the leaks to his apartment,” says Berger. “The records are still there regardless of who is managing the building.”

At this point, the most effective way to command attention may be to hire an attorney to review the records and the proprietary lease and write to the board on your behalf, says Berger.   The board may need to hire an engineer to determine where the water is coming from. 

Also, do you know whether your neighbor is using his apartment as a bed-and-breakfast?  If so, it’s another angle to put pressure on the board, suggests Berger, as it makes the board look bad for not enforcing the rules against illegal subletting.

Trouble at home? Get your NYC homeowning questions answered by an expert!  Send us your questions via our feedback form.