2016年7月某个周六的早上，我们一家人开开心心出去玩了。晚上回家，看到门上贴着一个纸条，大意是「我是楼下的 Mike，你们的浴室漏水了，请赶紧和我联系！」我们小区是 garden style condo，每栋3层、我在顶层。
这是我们在美国第一次遇到公寓漏水事件，估计也是最后一次（因为我们已经买了 single house 啦），事后看来，不但我们完全没有经验，楼下的 Mike 和 Laura 夫妇也是摸着石头过河 -- 也亏 Laura 还是房产经纪人！不少细节和最后的结果出乎我们、也出乎他们的意料，如果你在美国买房、尤其是 condo，以下经历可能对你非常有用。
楼下的 Mike 回家之后，我和他一起查看了他的主卧卫生间，果然天花板和墙壁上鼓起了几个大水包。我的卫生间里初看没有异样，但是把手放在对应位置的瓷砖上，能摸到轻微的水渍，顺藤摸瓜发现连接马桶水箱的管子有水渗出来。
「我们正在卖房，」Mike 无奈地说，「已经有买家签署了合同，今天做 home inspection 的时候发现了 Leak。」
在美国买房，签署合同之后通常有多个 contingency，具体条款则取决于所在地的法律、房屋的类型、买卖双方达成的协议等。我当初买这套公寓的时候，签署的合同有 HOA document, home inspection, home appraisal & loan approval 等多个 contingency 条款（美国买房的流程和常见 contingency 条款参见这篇文章）：
- HOA document contingency：卖家需要提供业委会（Home Owner's Association）文件，比如 bylaw, financial disclosure 等。如果我看了这些文件之后，觉得这房子不能买，比如说小区有财政问题，那么我可以无责任终止合同。
- Home Inspection Contingency：卖家需要请人做房屋检查，并提供评估报告。二手房都会有一些问题，大的如水、电、空调、房屋结构，小的如某个水龙头松了、洗碗机的出水管位置过高可能导致回水、某扇门的把手不好用等。如果我看了报告，觉得房屋有问题、不想买了；或者要求卖家修复某项问题、卖家拒绝、双方无法达成一致，我也可以终止合同。
- Home Appraisal & Loan Approval：如果房贷公司评估认为这套房不值那么钱、不能给我原先 Pre-Approve 的额度，我也可以终止合同。
因此，发现漏水了 Mike 必须马上处理，否则搞不好整个合同就黄了。
我自己的 Bathroom 很简单，当天晚上关掉水闸，第二天上午去 Home Depot 买了条同型号的马桶水箱连接管，买了套工具，自己拆了换上；顺便买了瓶玻璃胶把墙角线全部封死，这样如果以后再有 Leak，不会马上漏到楼下，而是会在我的 Bathroom 形成积水，我自然会注意到。Laura 第二天上来问，我带她进浴室看了，并跟她解释了之前的问题、以及我是如何修复的。
Mike 的 Bathroom 就比较麻烦一点。如果是自己住的房子，只要 Leak 及时修复，天花板和墙壁上的水包很快会消掉，不想麻烦的话这样就算完了；我之前的同事 Ray 在 DC 的公寓就遇到了这样的问题，他最后就不了了之了。然而 Mike 正在卖房，买方肯定不同意就这样算了，必须要修复，受影响的墙壁和天花板都要拆掉重做。
在美国买房，如果有贷款，一定会买房屋保险，我之前写文章介绍过。Mike 的妻子 Laura 是房屋经纪人，这次卖房就是她自己操办的（只要有 License，业主或业主亲戚也可以做交易的 Agent/Broker，但是必须向卖家披露），两人都要求我尽快向保险公司立案（File a Claim）。
- 「Condo Insurance 保的是你房间墙壁以内的部分，」他解释说，「我们只负责你房间内的损失。他们房间内的损失，应该去找他们的保险公司。」
- 「可是他们的损失是因为我的 Bathroom 漏水而造成的，」我还是没完全转过弯来，「这也是由他们的保险公司负责吗？」
- 「对的，」他说，「他们的保险公司介入之后，如果认为你负有责任、有 Liability，会找你赔偿需要你负责的部分，到时候你再来找我们。」他又补了一句，「我们会赔偿你的 Liability，你只需要负责 Deductible 的部分。」
我的房屋保险 Deductible 是 1,000 美元。第二天，保险公司重新安排人和我联系，把上面的意思又解释了一遍，并且找我要了我们公寓管委会的电话（「需要检查一下 HOA 的 Bylaw」）、以及楼下的联系方式（「我会去和他们解释」）。
搞清楚了「谁的保险公司管谁的事」之后，接下来的一个星期 Mike 和 Laura 没有再找过我。
最后，他们在做 Mold Inspection 的时候，没有发现霉变，但是发现墙壁的湿度偏高，怀疑是还有漏水。此时距离发现漏水已经过去约十天，我在修复马桶水管之后一直在仔细观察，每天早晚都要检查，没有再发现漏水，地上瓷砖完全是干的。然而 Mike 和 Laura 坚持要请个专业的水管工（Licensed Plumber）来检查。结果当然是啥也没有检查出来。
- 天花板和墙壁的修复一共花了 300 美元。
- Mold Inspection 花了 325 美元。
- 水管工花了 69.95 美元。
接下来的环节是扯皮 -- 哦不，是「责任和赔偿认定」。
如果楼下换天花板和墙壁花了几千美元，他们需要自费的 Deductible 又很高；或者他们的保险公司认为这是我的 Liability，需要找我赔偿；那么我需要先付 1,000 的 Deductible，剩下的找我的保险公司赔偿。满打满算我最多要出 1,000 美元。
但是没想到维修只花了 300，反而是 Mold Inspection 花了 325 美元，还有我不赞成做的 Plumber Check 也花了 69.95 美元，虽然他真的啥也没有做……我考虑了一下，觉得这后面两笔钱我不该出（原因参见下文），于是给 Mike 和 Laura 邮件说，第 1 笔钱没问题，第 2、3 我不能出。
我以为他们会马上反驳，没想到接下来一个星期都没有动静，直到我收到了管委会 Manager Jason 的邮件：
Dear Mr. Yang:
It's been reported to the management office that you had water leaking into Unit XXX, Mr. Mike Hunter's unit. Please be advised that unit to unit leaks are between the unit owners. Every unit owner must promptly perform all maintenance and repair work within his/her own unit and the unit owner is responsible for any damages to the common element and other units.
We understand that the repair work has already been completed in Mr. Hunter's unit. Please make arrangements with Mr. Hunter at 703-xxx-xxxx to reimburse him for the cost of the necessary repairs.
Please contact my office if you need copies of unit owner responsibilities from the Governing Documents.
If you have any questions you may contact me at email@example.com or 703-xxx-xxxx.
Jason xxx, Community Manager
好嘛，原来是找 HOA 投诉去了。Jason 说这事时 “between the unit owners”，我回复时也没多说：
I understand this is between unit owners.
I repaired the leak immediately when we were aware of situation. I also emailed Laura on August 9 regarding the invoices but didn't hear anything back.
The information provided by Jason clearly states that “Every unit owner must promptly perform all maintenance and repair work within his/her own unit and the unit owner is responsible for any damages to the common element and other units”.
As the unit owner of #xxx, and based on the causality of your master bathroom leak which caused damage to my unit, it is your responsibility to pay for all costs associated with these damages as stated in the condominium Governing Documents. Should you have a question about owners responsibilities, I am sure Jason can answer any such inquiries.
It is my wish to conclude this matter quickly and cordially. I respectfully request that you remit payment in full to me by Friday, August 26th.
简单地说，Mike 认为，根据 HOA 文件，因为渗水发生在我的浴室里，所以我需要赔偿对他的房间造成的损失。
我之前其实已经和他们简要解释过我的观点，但是现在邮件抄送了 HOA 的 Manager，我觉得这事跟 HOA 没关系，懒得和他解释，所以回复得比较简单、也比较强硬：
In my email to Laura on August 9, I clearly agreed to pay for the damage and the repair work in your unit, which is my responsibility.
I do not pay for anything else that's not my responsibility.
If you confirm that I should send you payment of the repair cost, after which this matter will be closed, I'm happy to do so right away.
Mike 开始向 HOA 求援：
I would like to have your opinion on this. The damage that Mr. Yang refers to as “not being his responsibility”, is a $350 fee for Mold Inspection. As you know, I am in the process of selling my condo and in order to do so the inspection was a requirement to assure that mold and/or mold spores were not present. Again the causality of this inspection was due to water damage from Mr. Yang’s master bathroom. As such it is my understanding that this responsibility is attached to Mr. Yang based on the binding nature of the condominium Governing Documents.
Please let me know what your understanding is of Mr. Yang’s responsibility as directed by the condominium Governing Documents. I would greatly appreciate a timely response.
I wanted to add some additional information. On the day of the buyer's home inspection, the leak manifested itself in our master bath. The ceiling and wall were bubbled out with water from unit #xxx. The agent called me and said that during the hour that they were in the condo, that the water bubbles grew significantly. The buyer is very allergic to mold and because of the incident during the home inspection, the buyer demanded that not only does the leak need to be repaired, our unit be repaired, but that we now had to pay for a mold certification and moisture test. I am the listing agent for the property. This was not a requirement of the original contract. This was all a result of the leak from unit #xxx.
I hope this clarifies any questions that you may have. Thank you!
All the best,
这封邮件正中我下怀，因为她以书面的形式确认了一件之前只在口头上跟我说起过的事情：他们墙壁和天花板上的水包，在发现的当天是在快速形成的过程中；他们的 Inspector 在做检测的一个小时中，发现水包明显增大了 -- 也就是说这不是 Slow Leak。
Hey Mike, Laura,
1. Re: The damage and repair cost.
I have agreed to pay in full from the very beginning.
2. Re: The mold inspection.
The leak, when discovered, was new and steady. You described to me vividly that the water bubbles grew significantly within an hour; it's not something that could have been going on for a while.
I shut down the water that night when I came home, a few hours after the leak was discovered, and fixed the leak in the next morning.
Also, when you opened up and replaced the ceiling, there's no sign of mold. That's what you confirmed with me.
As such, it's completely unnecessary for a mold inspection. You did it not because it's necessary as a result of the leak, but because the buyer asked for it, and you wanted to satisfy the buyer. You could have explained to the buyer why it's not necessary, but you chose not to; I understand that you wanted to impress your buyer, however that does not become my responsibility.
3. Re: The plumber.
I shut down the water within a few hours after the leak was discovered and fixed the leak in the following morning. I even showed Laura into my bathroom and explained in details what I had done and how it was fixed.
In the following week, I closely watched for any sign of leak and checked my bathroom multiple times every day. I did so to make sure the leak is properly fixed and no further damages, for which I would be liable, occur. In the following week, there's no sign of leak at all; my bathroom was completely dry, which I also confirmed with you.
Yet you hired a plumber to check my bathroom more than a week after it's fixed without any sign of further leakage. I was at work when the plumber came by. He called me, sounded confused, asking me what he should be looking at; he found no sign of leak and was wondering why he needed to be there.
He needed not, which is also the reason why I should not be responsible for paying.
Please let me know if I missed anything.
因为漏水发生在我的浴室里，我有责任赔偿因此造成的“Damage & Necessary Repairs”，所以第1项我一开始就同意出。第2项、第3项我不同意出，是因为他们不是“Necessary”：
- Mold Inspection：发现漏水的时候，水包在 1 个小时之内明显变大，所以它不是 Slow Leak，不可能已经渗了很长时间；我在几个小时之内、发现漏水的当晚就关了水闸、第二天上午就修复了；楼下在打开天花板维修的时候也没有发现任何霉变的迹象（这也是他们告诉我的）；不管怎么看都不可能有霉变，没有任何正当理由和合理的怀疑（Probable Cause; 看美剧刑侦片的常用词汇）来做 Mold Inspection。他们之所以要做，不是因为渗水造成的“Necessary”，而纯粹是为了满足买方要求，不管是否合理和必要。
- Plumber Check：我第二天就修复了渗水，并让 Laura 进我的浴室看了、还向她详细解释了我的修复措施；接下来的一个星期我一直在观察，没有任何继续渗水的迹象，我的地板完全是干的；他们在一个多星期以后要求 Licensed Plumber 来检查也没有正当理由。
Regarding the mold inspection. The buyer said they would not purchase the condo without proof (e.g., mold inspection) that there was no mold. As I said in the previous email, the buyer is very allergic to mold. I had to satisfy that request. No one knew if there had been a slow leak prior to the time it manifested during the home inspection, which could have caused mold to grow over time. The plumber was brought in because when the moisture test was done it still showed moisture. Based upon the certified professional’s advice, he told us that we should have a plumber come and evaluate the repairs. We had to ensure that repair to your bathroom was sound. If you were the buyer, in this circumstance, you would be asking for the same to be done.
Derek, we did not do anything more than what was needed to satisfy the buyer’s request so we could sell our condo. None of this would have been needed had your bathroom not leaked into ours.
之前的交道中，Mike 比较和善，Laura 比较强势。现在 Laura 明显气势降下来了，但是她似乎没有意识到我真正的 Argument。她一味强调他们所做的都是应买方要求、并没有任何「没必要」的花钱。然而我的要点在于：我只负责应渗水直接造成的损失和必要修葺；至于你要卖房，关我毛事……
HOA 的 Jason 看明白了我的要点，单独回复了我：
Thank you for providing all of the below information so that I could better understand the situation. Have a good one.
接下来就比较简单了。我更直截了当地告诉 Laura -- 你卖房和我没关系。
I understand that you did what you felt was needed to satisfy your buyer, and I'm not suggesting you should have not. However, it's not my responsibility to satisfy your buyer or help you sell the condo.
Because the leak happened in my unit, I'm responsible for the damage and necessary repair, which is the reason why I agreed -- from the very beginning -- to pay for item 1. However, I also explained that there was no reasonable ground for a mold inspection or a plumber check, which is the reason why they are not my responsibility. Again, I'm not suggesting you should not have tried to convince your buyer, I'm simply saying that it does not become my responsibility.
Please confirm that I can write you a payment for the repair work and this matter will be closed.
这回他们终于明白了。过了一天，Mike 给我邮件，他们出 Mold Inspection 的钱，要求我出其余的：
In the interest of concluding this matter, please remit payment in the amount of $372 ($697 minus $325 for mold inspection, hence $372), by Friday, August 26, 2016. A cash payment is preferable, however if you prefer to pay by check, please make it payable to Mike Hunter. We will consider the matter concluded upon receipt of a cash payment or once your check clears my bank account. You may deliver the payment to my unit, or attach it to the condo unit door #xxx if no one is home or available.
他们做 Plumber Check 其实有一个正当理由，前面已经提到了：做 Mold Inspection 的时候，Inspector 发现墙壁的湿度较高，怀疑还有渗水，建议他们找 Licensed Plumber 来做检查。因此，我本来是打算：1、Repair 的钱我出；2、Mold Inspection 我不出；3、Plumber Check 我出一半。后来一想，Plumber Check 一半的钱不过 35 美元，我的时间很宝贵，何必继续扯皮，不如就这样算了。
- Garden Style Condo 顶层比楼下贵很多是有道理的。如果你要买 Garden Style Condo，尽量买顶层；宁愿自己去祸害别人也不要别人来祸害自己。像这种漏水的事情，真碰上无赖、拖着你就是不付钱，你会很麻烦。打官司又不值得，请律师，呵呵，三百块钱还不够很多律师一小时的费用，没人会接。
- 搞清楚保险的内容和条款。Condo Insurance 只负责你的 Unit 以内，墙壁以外的事情（包括墙壁里面的水管）不是你的责任，也不是你保险公司的责任。本次事故中如果楼下找我理赔，需要保险公司介入，那是因为 Liability。
- 保险一般都有 Deductible，如果是小事，没花多少钱的话，还是自己协商（扯皮/吵架）解决吧。本次事故中，如果需要我这边出两三千美元，我是无所谓的，反正自己出 1,000、剩下的保险公司出，总额多少跟我没关系。但是如果总额只有六七百块，我就要好好吵一吵了，因为都是要我自己出的呀。
- 关于美国房屋保险（尤其是 Condo Insurance）的更多信息，请阅读这篇文章。