As a renter, am I responsible for a concealed water pipe that burst?

It burst while we were living in the house so the temperatures in the house for livable for us. The pipe was in the ceiling concealed in the downstairs bathroom. The landlord claimed that we didn’t keep our house warm enough for his pipes. I just want to know who is responsible for the repair bill and should the landlord have informed me of this at the time of repair or is it okay for him to notify me when he takes it out of my deposit after I moved out?

Asked on July 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A tenant is only responsible for damage which the tenant (or tenant's family, guests, pets, etc.) caused. Unless the landlord can show that you let the house get below freezing, such as by not keeping any heat on during a cold period (which would be an unreasonably careless, or negligent, thing to do), it  is very unlikely that he could hold you liable for the repair costs. If you believe that there is no basis for changing you for this and that the landlord therefore illegally withheld part or all of your security deposit, you could sue him (such as in small claims courrt) for your deposit's return.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.