Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: My bathroom ceiling collapsed three times from flooding caused by my upstairs neighbor. What should I do?

And after three incidents, you should consider the possibility that your apartment might have mold.

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Question:

I live downstairs from a woman who routinely forgets to turn off her bathtub faucet and creates a flood. My bathroom ceiling has fallen down three times. What steps should I take to deal with this? Signed, Wet and Weary

Answer:

Dear Weary,

I feel your pain, and while this may not be as dangerous as forgetting to turn off a stove, it is really a problem. One accident like this may be forgiven but three? Your upstairs neighbor may be showing signs of senility. That’s the first issue that should be addressed by the management company. She may be causing trouble but she could also need real help, so ask your management to talk to her and and reach out to her emergency contact.  

At the very least, your neighbor should apologize and offer to pay any deductibles after your insurance company pays you. Then I suspect it is up to your insurance company to sue her insurance company.

And after three incidents, you should consider the possibility that your apartment might have mold. This is dangerous for anyone, especially for young children and older adults. To resolve this, you may need a special cleaning company to come in and dry out the ceiling and walls and remove any mold. It’s quite expensive but absolutely necessary. If this keeps happening, there's a chance your neighbor’s insurance company could stop paying her and your rates will go through the (already damaged) ceiling.

A woman on my floor needed to have a mold specialist come in and fix her apartment. She actually had to leave her place for several days while the issue was resolved. Even though she recouped the cost, she was greatly inconvenienced by having to stay in a hotel.

So, arrange a meeting with your management company, board, and your neighbor. This is a dangerous situation that could hurt you physically as well as financially.

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.