Matt Rench
Matt Rench
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4 years ago
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Rainwater completely flooded my entire room, ruined all my clothes, mattress, and tv and the landlord claims it was my fault

Basically, we received torrential rainfall and water came through my sky light in my room and drenched everything. I'm talking about buckets and buckets of water set up all over my room. It ruined my brand new mattress, tv, and dresser (not to mention everything on my bookcase, etc) and totally stained my clothes.

The issue is that the landlord is saying that I was responsible for cleaning out my gutters, so this is my fault. Here's the deal though... there were tennis balls in the gutter... Why?? I moved in a few weeks before, haven't played tennis since I was 12. Why would I be responsible for knowing that random people were hitting tennis balls onto the roof of my house?

He's refusing to reimburse me for anything and saying that the damage is going to have to come out of my security deposit at the end. Is there anything I can do? Does anyone have any advice?
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Bob Marley
Bob Marley
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4 years ago
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Almost every house comes with a warrenty of habitabillity. If you had no idea the sky light leaked, and it was not in the lease that you are responsible for all upkeep (even things unforeseeable), your landlord is 100% responsible for all damage. The only way you can get him to cover is to take him to court. And don't worry about him trying to evict you because of it. That's illegal too. You do have to option of withholding rent until it equals all the damage to your things, but this may only be effective if you also pay for the repair of the skylight...Then he would have to take YOU to court (his expense) in order to try to collect rent. At that time, you would give your defense of roof leaking...You are looking at a legal battle either way, but depending on your loss, it could be worth it. I think you have a case.
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Samantha Smiles
Samantha Smiles
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4 years ago
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Nice Bob..IMPLIED WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY
Law that exists in most states which governs residential rentals and asserts that regardless of what a lease says, the landlord must provide premises that are safe and livable (habitable) at some basic level. Problems with essential building services and cleanliness are often breaches of the implied warranty and the landlord will be required to correct them.
IN Washington D.C. I would check out the web Tenant Rights.. It is a great thing to keep on hand for reference to.. It sounds like he was aware of the ongoing problem. The only thing he may be able to get is the preventive maintenance clause. but here is the link to the web address Good Luck. http://www.howardfairhousing.org/additional_resources/61/118/

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Heather S
Heather S
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4 years ago
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HI Matt,
I would get your lease and read it over again and see if it states anything about you taking care of the gutters. I would also start documenting everything ie: time/date you called landlord what he said, take pictures etc. I would then seek out a lawyer and explain your case to him. What your landlord is doing is not right nor is it professional. I would start looking for another place to reside in as well. Who knows what else this crazy landlord will "put" on you at a later date. Get out now if possible consult with a lawyer see if there is any way to fight this and buy out break lease.
Good Luck

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Matt Rench
Matt Rench
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4 years ago
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Also, I had moved in 3 weeks earlier and the tennis balls looked pretty old and grimey. I think they were in there when I moved in,s o isn't that the landlord's responsibility to make sure everything is in working order before leasing it?

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Melissa Swezey
Melissa Swezey
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4 years ago
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I rent a basement apt. for almost a year now. I have had about 5-6 floods there is mold and I have the oil tank in my living room whic leaked BEFORE i moved in and everyone that comes over says it reaks of oil and mold. The mold and oil is making myself and now my dog sick. It is in my lease that I have to have renters insurance. But in your situation if it doesn't state it and this was there before you moved in your landlord could be responsible. I would seek legal advice.

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Mary Morgan
Mary Morgan
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4 years ago
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Your landlord has housing insurance. He may be trying to make you think it's your fault but it isn't. Do you have a least?
If not, good, find another place and take him to small claims
court, but take pictures, document calls, and if you have a lease read it carefully. You may be able to get out of the lease in small claims court and get reimbursed for damages.

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david d
david d
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4 years ago
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Landlord has a homeowners policy /landlord policy to cover certain things.

Renters should have renters insurance. Look at rentlaw.com for more info there and the landlord vs the renter and insurance.

Many times on a single family home, BASIC maintenance is the tenants job. Like cutting grass or cleaning your own windows - as if you own the place. I tell my tenants pretend you own it and take pride in it.

On the skylight - it WAS CLOSED when the rain hit - or was it open and you left for a few days?

Many people prefer to rent - even large upscale homes - cheaper and they most likely expect there is no work involved - let the landlord do it.

Many times these homes are up for rent because the owner/landlord can't manage the property - easier to find someone else to pay to repair and pay the mortgage.

It depends. Document and find all your receipts. If you did in fact have renters insurance, contact the co.

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Matt Rench
Matt Rench
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4 years ago
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Thanks for the ideas. Unfortunately, it is written into my lease that I am responsible for the gutters and maintenance of the house (which I admittedly glossed over). The issue is that in order to prevent this from happening, I would have to check the gutters every single day on my 3 story house in order to make sure nobody's hit a tennis ball into them.

Even if it is written into my lease, is it still possible for me to not have to pay this on the basis that it is ridiculous that I'd have to check gutters on a 7 bedroom house every day?

- I'll be sure to document and photograph everything, good idea
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Anita B
Anita B
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4 years ago
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Please note that you are required for maintenance, not repair. In your case, the issue may be the landlord's failure to repair the defective skylight. You should check with what the definition of maintenance is and whether this clause is illegal; typically the landlord is reponsible for exterior maintenance such as roofs and skylights, even in a commercial lease.

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Anita B
Anita B
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4 years ago
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I am unclear how clogged gutters caused water to come through your skylight. Was the skylight open or closed? If it was closed and the skylight leaked, then the landlord could be responsible.

Please note that rental policies most often do not cover as much as a principal homeowner policy; it is very possible that the landlord's insurance policy does not cover your damage.
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Anita B
Anita B
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4 years ago
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If the skylight leaked, then the landlord could be held responsible; if the skylight had not been "defective" then there would not have been water damage.

Despite what is said in other posts, it is highly unlikely that the landlord's property insurance covers water damage; most rental property policies only cover fire damage. However, the landlord's policy may cover your damage if it is determined that the landlord is liable due to failing to remedy the defective skylight. You would need to check with the case law in your jurisdiction as this varies. You could have basis for a small claims case.

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Matt Rench
Matt Rench
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4 years ago
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Anita,

I guess we had a flat section of roof over my sky light, so water kept building up there and couldn't get out. I guess it seaped through the skylight and then eventually the seal must have given way and flooded everything

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Joe Huppert
Joe Huppert
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4 years ago
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As far as reimbursement on your property goes you might be out of luck. Many companies offer very cheap renters insurance for instances like this, and in most cases its only about $10 a month. Not to be the debby downer or anything, but if this maintenance and gutter cleaning is written into your lease then regardless of a leaky seal on the skylight you are more than likely going to be partially at fault for the damages. Granted, the landlord should have cleaned them and made sure that everything was good to go for you before you moved in, but on the other hand, you should have gone through and carefully read the lease as well as documented any discrepancies that might have been there before you signed it. Sadly, on top of this all, his insurance is more than likely going to cover all the damages, but he is still legally able to charge you for them as well... he'll probably make a considerable profit from this situation. Best advice for this situation is A) carefully read your lease and understand it, B) just pay and get out of it, court is expensive

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caterina foster
caterina foster
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4 years ago
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ASK HER WHO SHE IS INSURED WITH YOU MIGHT HAVE A CLAIM.

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A HotPads user
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