Spanish Lawyer: Liability for water damages and leaks from the upstairs neighbour. Legal Advice and regulation in Spain. What to do?


Dear Sirs,

I had a water leak into my property coming from my upstairs neighbour’s bathroom.
He said that he is not liable because although it was a problem of his house’s pipes, he did not cause it on purpose or negligently, and he could not know or avoid it, and being just an accident he is not responsible for the water damages caused. Is this true? What should I do?

Dear reader,

First of all thank you for your query.

The first thing you should do, is to report this to your own and your neighbour’s insurance company.
If your neighbour or his insurer refuses to repair the damages, before starting with any repairs, it is very important that you get clear evidence and records of the existence of the damages and its causes.

For this and depending on how serious the damages are, it could be really advisable to request an architect or surveyor report, which should include: a photographic report of water damages, mention and proof of the causes of the problem, advisable constructive solution, quotation and costs of the reparations, etc.

Sometimes it could be beneficial also get a Public Notary to grant a notarial photographic report of the situation.

If the damages are not significant, and you do not want to incur expenses, it may be sufficient if you take pictures of the damages and ask several neighbours to act as witnesses, confirming that the photographs match with the reality.

Since this would be fundamental evidence in a possible future court case, we advise you to ensure that the damages and its causes are perfectly documented, before repairing them.

If you decide to repair the damages, make sure that the builder chosen performs his work diligently and provides you with the a clear and itemised invoice.

Also you should know that most Spanish Courts understand that in this type of damages caused by water leaks from the neighbour’s property, according to article 1910 of the Spanish Civil Code, apply the strict or objective liability, that means that it is not necessary that your neighbour is guilty, careless or negligent, to be responsible.

Therefore in these cases, if you are able to prove that the damage occurred and was due to the leakage of water from the neighbour’s bathroom, he will need to compensate you, even if was not his fault.

There are many precedents from Spanish Courts in this regard, also from our Alicante’s Provincial Audience, like the Court Orders and Decrees number 201 of the 3rd April 2012, the Order number 523/2011 of November 17, etc.

If you or someone you know is going through a similar situation then please do not hesitate to contact us, we will be more than pleased to assist you.

The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.

White & Baos
Tel:+34 966 426 185
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