Water damage from neighbor's hot water heater!

ohmandeeMay 5, 2006


Last week I came home to find water all over my bathroom and hallway. I called the complex and they sent someone out to "fix" the problem. Yesterday I noticed that my closet ceiling was dripping. So, I called again and after many investigations they concluded that it was the water heater upstairs that had been causing the problem the entire time.

They are cleaning the carpet today, but most of the clothing in that closet was ruined. I do not have renter's insurance. Is the apartment responsible for replacing any of the damaged goods? If so, what is a reasonable amount to ask (it is hard to gauge the value of clothing!). I am also very worried that this problem may lead to mold/mildew. How do they investigate that? If they do find it, should I request that they move me or is it easy treated?

Any help is most appreciated!


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They are responsible for damages theur lack of maintenance causes, and leaking water heaters is something that any reasonably intelligent maintenance man can find. And should suspect IMMEDIATELY when there is an unexplained accumulation of water.

Make them an offer, in writing, sent certified return reciept ... you will try a laundry and dry cleaner's first and then replace what was unsalvageable from a good consignment shop, similar style and grade. They pay laundry, dry cleaner's and cost of clothing. Make an inventory (and be reasonable ... if you hadn't worn it in 3 years, it doesn't fit, or it was in bad condition ... don't count it)


And tell them their options are to pay for your reasonable request, or face you in small claims court, where you will ask for the same thing.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 3:08PM
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In MN the landlord would NOT be responsible IF they advise or recomend you have renters insurance. I am 100% sure as I am a landlord and have run into problems like this. I have almost always worked with the tenants to keep them happy but didn't have to. The one time I did not was when a fridge died. The tenant wanted me to give him money for his spoiled food. I asked him how much he wanted. His response was a bill for over $300! Since it was so high and rediculous I said no. I was going to give him something but my attorney said paying him $5 is admitting guilt and I could be liable for the entire $300. Sending certified letters also scares many landlords to call an attorney and not work with tenants. I would talk directly to the landlord first. Most people are decent humans and will fix the problem.

Everyone should have renters insurance. As a landlord I have coverage for my buildings and MY personal property (fridge, oven A/C, etc) and even lost rent, but if a fire destroyed my property all my tenants would be on there own for their personal belongings. I have found its an average of $10 a month here. CHEAP!

As far as the mold..... It should be fine in the ceiling as long as it dries out, mold needs more of a constant moisture. There are inspectors with an x-ray gun to find mold in walls.

Best of luck and hopefully this problem is fixed for good.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 11:56PM
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Thanks for the info. Hopefully they will correct it as they've promised!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 10:23AM
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Hmmmm, I have a feeling you might be out of luck on this one. I know that if your apartment were to say burn down or something that you'd be left with nothing because your landlord is not responsible for your personal items. That is what renter's insurance is for. We paid less than $100 for a full year of coverage. You could try asking them to pay for it and see what happens but I don't think you'd win in small claims. Check your laws, maybe consult with legal aid. Good luck and sorry to hear about your clothes.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 4:44PM
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The difference is that a fire is not usually a result of direct negligence on the management's fault. If it were then you probably could sue them. For instance, if an electrician told them they had faulty wiring that was a fire hazard and they opted not to fix it, and that wiring caused the building to burn down, the tenant's losses would be a direct result of the managements negligence, and I'd bet they could win.

Same here, this was a result of negligence.

I have a friend who lives in the same building his sister lives in. It's a highrise, but the units are owned, like condos. The bylaws state very clearly that the highrise management company is not responsible for damages to personal property. My friend's sister had insurance to cover her belongings. When the pipes in the building froze and burst, sending a virtual waterfall into her apartment, my friend told her not to even report it to the insurance company. Instead he threatened the management company with a lawsuit, because the damages to her property were a direct result of their negligence. They bought her all new furniture.

If any damage had been done to my washer, dryer, or upright freezer when our maintenance crew incorrectly installed our hot water heater, causing the outlet pipe to burst sending scalding hot water spraying all over our utility room, you better believe they would have bought us new appliances. Would have paid our hospital bills to if my husband had been hurt running into all that scalding hot water to shut off the intake to the water heater.

Basically, damages to tenant's property that are outside the apartment management's control, like storms, trees falling down, fires, are not the responsibility of the management. But if negligence can be shown to be the reason for the damage, you better believe they can be held responsible. You might have to actually take them to small claims court, cuz they'll calim that your renter's insurance is responsible.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 9:59AM
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I wouldn't call this negligence. They sent someone out and couldn't find this problems and even might have fixed something else. Frozen pipes also are not negligence, I have delt with this before.

Either way everyone should have renters insurance. Making a claim doesn't affect your primium in my state. Its called no fault. In MN most companies charge $10 per month for around $10,000 in coverage. You are foolish not to have this.

Many LL or Management companies may help out in good faith.

Condo's and Townhomes have different rules and laws for this type of situation. They have associations WHICH the resident is a part of.

ALSO the above post with the waterfall coming into the unit. The high rise was probaby forced to file a claim due to the damage, adding on personal property would cost them nothing as the deductible would be maxed AND they keep a person happy. A different situation when the LL or Association is already making a claim.

In most cases negligence is extreamly hard to prove. Even in this situation, I am guessing the lease would say needed repairs should be delivered in writting. Most people just call. Since nothing would be recorded the actual first complaint would be he said she said.

Outside magagements control would also include broken pipes, leaks, broken appliances, electrical shortages, and many other items.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 12:06PM
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I would have to agree with nfllifer on this. Negligence would be hard to prove and they were out once in an attempt to correct the problem. If they found something they thought was causing the problem the first time and fixed it, then there was no need to continue looking. To me negligence would be that they absolutely knew that the water heater was bad and let it sit anyway. And how do you prove that they knew the water heater was bad? You'd have to get documentation from whoever looked at the whole thing in the first place and I doubt they really knew that the water heater was the problem. And as far as that goes, if another company was hired to handle the problem and told the management company the problem was fixed, then how can the management company be responsible? I guess if it's really worth the time and energy to this person, then hey, go for it.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 4:47PM
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Thanks for all of your support and great advice. All has been fixed (shoddy job, but dry and no more holes in the closet!) and they are not going to reimburse me for any damages. I won't argue or sue, it isn't worth my time or energy at this point.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 11:10AM
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Sorry to hear about your damages. Definately call and check into renter insurance though! It's worth the peace of mind.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 4:54PM
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Here's another reason to look into renter's insurance. I have renter's insurance now. I also have auto insurance with the same company. They give me a multipolicy discount. The discount virtually negates the cost of the renter's insurance. The renter's insurance is around $10 a month, maybe a little less. The discount I get on my car insurance as a result of the mp discount is between $8 and $9 per month.

It's well worth it. And at least with my company when I bought a home recently, having had renter's insurance and not filed a claim on it gave me a break on homeowners. (Good claim history, etc.)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 9:09PM
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