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Do I need to pay for my neighbor to move and store her furniture while she repairs water damage from my apartment?

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Question:

A water leak in my condo damaged the floorboards in the unit below mine. I agreed to cover the costs of the repairs. However, the neighbor is also seeking compensation for the moving and storing of her furniture while the floors get repaired. Am I responsible for this as well?

Answer:

First off, the answer is probably yes, and secondly, it's worth pointing out that it's times like these that prove why having proper insurance is so valuable, say our experts.

"Turn the entire matter over to your homeowner’s insurance coverage to directly subrogate the claim with your neighbor’s insurance coverage--it’s there for exactly this type of situation," says property manager Thomas  Usztoke, of Douglas Elliman Property Management

As long as you have a good policy (and chances are your condo by-laws have requirements that you do), you should be fine to add on the extra expenses your neighbor is requesting you cover. "If you are responsible for damage to the apartment below, your policy will pick up the legit claim expenses your downstairs neighbor has incurred," says Jeff Schneider of Gotham Brokerage (a Brick Underground sponsor). "Typically the expense of moving furniture out and storing it while refinishing and painting goes on would be covered."

Note: There can always be exclusions to coverage, and complications can arise if you own but don't occupy the home (especially if you Airbnb it out), and if you fail to report your claim swiftly, says Schneider.

But usually, your insurance is on it.  "Sometimes if you think damage is minor, you might be inclined to accept responsibility and pay out of pocket," says Schneider, as two claims within three years could cause your insurer to cancel your policy. "The problem with water damage, though, is that initially damage may appear minimal but then much more extensive damage shows up in a few weeks or months."


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