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Mann v. Harris

A-2897-07T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2009) (Unpublished)

CONDOMINIUMS; LIABILITY — A condominium association and a property manager may have a duty to warn a unit owner of the potential risk or hazard of water flow from an upstairs or adjacent unit even if the upstairs or adjacent unit owner would not, itself, be liable for damage caused by the flowing water.

A tenant told its landlord that the bathroom ceiling had collapsed due to a water leak from the apartment above. The apartments were each condominium units. Access was gained to the upstairs apartment but permanent repairs were not made. A tube continued to protrude into the landlord’s apartment. The landlord sued the owner of the upstairs apartment, the condominium association, and the property manager for the cost of repairs and for lost rental income. The lower court awarded damages, jointly and severally, against the apartment owner, association, and the property manager. On appeal, the Appellate Division found that the landlord had never established that the upstairs apartment owner breached any duty of care to the owner of the apartment below, and that there was no evidence that the upstairs apartment owner caused the damage. It affirmed the judgment of joint and several liability against the condominium association and the property management company as parties having a duty to warn the landlord of any potential risks or hazards, but reversed the finding of liability against the upstairs apartment owner.

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