From the solution by mutual agreement to the recourse to legal action: everything you need to know in the event of water infiltration from the apartment above.
If you live in an apartment building and at some point you happen to see stains on the ceiling more or less suddenly, in most cases it is water infiltration from the apartment above or, depending on the context, from the attic or from the terrace.
In this case, using a paint roller is not the definitive solution, because if the problem is not solved first, the humidity deriving from water infiltrations begins to generate stains which in the long run will make even expensive treatments with anti-mold paint useless. . Before initiating any type of intervention, therefore, it is important to inform the owner, or the tenant of the apartment above , of the situation , and if possible find a solution by mutual agreement.
Unfortunately, however, things do not always proceed in such a simple and linear way; in most cases, however, the exact opposite occurs and then we get to legal action. So let’s go into the topic further and see what are the hypothetical scenarios that can arise in such a situation.
How to recognize water infiltrations
As mentioned above, water infiltrations can be easily recognized thanks to the mold stains that form in the points where the damaged pipes are located.
In condominium buildings, ceiling humidity stains occur mainly in bathrooms and kitchens; in fact, since the position of the water pipes, in plan, is common on each vertical of apartments, it is much easier for infiltrations from the bathroom above to occur .
The fact remains that there may be cases in which leaks affect external condominium water pipes , or floors of attics and terraces located above the apartments and not adequately insulated against rain and humidity. The latter circumstance occurs above all in the apartments located on the top floor of the buildings, where each room is potentially exposed to water infiltration from the roof .
Damage from water infiltration: how to ascertain them
Before proceeding in any direction, it is necessary to check for any damage caused by water infiltrations ; these can be of a structural type, that is inherent to pipes and masonry works, of a sanitary type, as mold is potentially dangerous for human health, or of both types.
Before informing the owner of the apartment above the situation, it is a good idea to take pictures and send them to him by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt; in this way it will be possible to have tangible proofs in the event that the owner refuses to find a solution by mutual agreement and obliges the injured party to take legal action.
To establish the extent of any structural damage, you must necessarily consult a plumber or a qualified technician; visually it is possible to ascertain the state of the external surface of the ceiling, in fact, by checking if there is detachment of the plaster, for example, but to know the real extent of the damage inside the masonry and in the ducts it is necessary to break the masonry and get to the piping.
To establish the potential danger of mold, however, must be provided by the staff in charge of the ASL, after having received the request from the injured party or from the court that resolves the dispute.
In the latter case, the court itself will appoint an impartial expert who takes on the task of identifying the causes of the infiltrations and establishing, as far as possible, a negotiation between the parties concerned.
Who is responsible for the repair costs
If the water leaks come from pipes located in the walls, then the cost of repairing the damage lies with the owner of the damaged apartment or property; the same applies if the property damaged by the infiltrations is not located in a condominium building, or it is but is located on the top floor.
In the event that the leaks are localized on the ceiling and are caused by leaks in the water system of the apartment above, however, then the person responsible is the relative owner. After having informed him of the situation and having sent him the photographs of the damaged ceiling by registered letter with return receipt, therefore, you can try to reach an amicable agreement; but in the event that the owner of the apartment above refuses to acknowledge his responsibilities, then one must necessarily turn to a lawyer and take the matter to court.
Instead, it is completely useless to contact the condominium administrator because, in these cases, he is absolutely not responsible and can do absolutely nothing to intervene.
Once the matter becomes the responsibility of a magistrate, however, the latter can oblige the responsible owner to pay not only the repairs of the broken system, but also to pay compensation for damages, including non-pecuniary ones.
The amount of damages
When the dispute is settled by a court, once the appraiser has determined impartially what the responsibilities of the owner are, the judge takes on the task of quantifying the damages that the owner of the apartment above is required to pay to the owner of the property. apartment below.
Usually the practice foresees that the rooms where the humidity stains and other possible damages have formed, are completely restored; this means the judge evaluates both the average price of the painting of the ceiling and that of the walls, even if these have not been damaged, and this for the sole purpose of avoiding any color contrasts inside the room.
In addition to the expenses to be paid, there are often also those deriving from the unavailability of the property; usually after having painted the room, in fact, the latter is unusable for at least two or three days due to the smell of the paint.
In the event that the judge finds himself in a position not to be able to determine the exact sum of the compensation, however, then this can be quantified on an equitable basis , i.e. the amount of the sum is established on the basis of what the judge considers to be the fair amount; in any case, the liquidation must always be congruous to the extent of the damage.