Condo owner dinged $10,000 for improperly seated toilet that caused B.C. strata sewage leak

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      You may want to check if your toilet is loose and not properly seated.

      That faulty home fixture may cause a sewage leakage.

      If you live in a condo, that could cause damage not only to your property but to others as well.

      Aside from repairs, a defective toilet may also cost you more money, as what happened with condo owner Bhupinder Singh Sandhu.

      Sandhu owns a second floor condo unit at a B.C. strata complex.

      A sewage backup occurred at his home in 2019, causing damage to a unit below.

      The strata paid for repairs, and charged its $10,000 insurance deductible to Sandhu.

      Sandhu claimed that he is not responsible for the leak, arguing that there was a blockage in the common property’s sewer pipe.

      Sandhu brought the dispute before a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal, and the case was decided in favour of the strata by Kate Campbell, vice chair of the administrative tribunal.

      In her reasons for decision, Campbell relied on the findings of the strata’s plumbing contractor, Redpoint Mechanical Services.

      In its invoice, Redpoint reported that it removed the toilet in Unit 217, which belongs to Sandhu, and accessed the drain.

      “Toilet loose on its mounting posts. Flange on right hand side cracked at bolt mounting point. Wax seal has failed due to movement,” Redpoint stated.

      The plumbing company also reported that it is unable to reinstall toilet “until flange is repaired”.

      A toilet flange is the device that connects the bottom of a toilet to the drainpipe in the floor.

      Campbell wrote in her reasons for decision that while there was an “unidentified blockage in a common property sewer line”, Sandhu’s “broken toilet was effectively a weak point in the system, so when the line blockage caused a sewer backup, the sewage escaped from around the toilet and into the strata building”.

      “There is no evidence before me about whether the pipe blockage would have caused sewage to escape into the building through another route if the unit 217 toilet had not been broken,” Campbell stated.

      According to Campbell, there is no evidence on this point, and so she cannot make a finding about it.

      “However, Redpoint’s evidence is clear that the leak would not have occurred as it did if the unit 217 toilet had been seated properly,” Campbell wrote.

      Sandhu was “negligent, and because his toilet failed”, he is liable.

      “Since the toilet was loose, and this was identifiable upon inspection, I find the owner did not meet the standard of care by reasonably maintaining the toilet,” Campbell wrote.