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Who is liable for water damage from water meter leak?

By Franz de Villiers on Fri, 23 Mar 2012 at 14:09

Hi there.

I own a flat in a security complex, each flat in the complex has an individual water meter which serves it. The meter is not in my flat or on my property, it is enclosed within a box in the wall outside my flat, in the stairway. I do not have access to the meter (the managing agents take readings each month), and the body corporate is responsible for the meter's maintenance.

The meter was leaking, which resulted in water damage to the flat below mine, as well as the stairway walls.

The body corporate was notified as soon as the leak was noticed, after which it took them a week, and more follow-up phone calls to have it fixed. Insurance covers the damage, but I have been told by the managing agents that I am liable for the excess, because the water meter serves only my flat.

I would like to know, even though it only serves my flat, should the body corporate not be liable for the damages, as I don't have access to the meter, it is on common property, they are responsible for its maintenance, and it was not dealt with swiftly, resulting in the damages?

I have asked the managing agents for any documentation to prove that I am in fact liable, and the contact information for the chairman of the body corporate. All I have received is a form signed by the managing agent, stating that the trustees of the body corporate say I am liable, and will debit my account, with no reasons or supporting documentation. They have since debited my levies account for the excess amount.

Can I withhold payment of this amount, until I feel the issue has been dealt with properly? (I will obviously pay the usual rates & levies.)

What steps can I take to get this amount credited, and have the body corporate accept liability? Everything about this case tells me that the BC should be liable. At this stage I have only dealt with the managing agents who have just stonewalled me.

Thanks in advance.

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RE: Who is liable for water damage from water meter leak?

Thomas Groenewald replied on Fri, 23 Mar 2012 at 17:22

PMR 33 deals with improvements to common property. PMR 33(3) specifically deals with the installation "separate meters to record the consumption of electricity, water ...". It may therefore be concluded that the meters are common property of the collective (body corporate) and that the collective is responsible to maintain them. The managing agent and trustees are therefore, in my opinion, mistaken that you are liable for the excess with regard to the insurance repairs of damage as result of the leakage.

RE: Who is liable for water damage from water meter leak?

Mike Power replied on Mon, 26 Mar 2012 at 11:54

Hi Franz, Thomas is correct in saying that when they were installed, it was probably as a result of a non-luxurious improvement. The resolution should have stipulated who was responsible for the excess.

Secondly, the damage to the flat below resulted in an insurance claim, and the excess should be payable by the owner of the affected section (ie the flat downstairs). Again, there may be a special rule included in the resolution, but on the face of it, the excess is for the owner below.

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