Burst pipe

My wife and I recently went on a holiday vacation. We planned on moving into a new place, and so before our vacation, we moved most of our essentials out of the apartment and into the new place when we got back. We hadn’t been back to the old apartment since taking off for our vacation but today we went back to get a few more items. On the door, we saw a note saying we should leave our faucets running to prevent pipe freezing, and inside, we saw a floor covered in ice. We alerted the maintenance team, who said they would charge us for the repairs because we should have followed the instructions on the note. The contract doesn’t say anything about leaving heat on or faucets dripping. Who is at fault?

Asked on January 6, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You would likely be at fault if the pipes froze and burst because you did not leave them dripping. It's not a function of what the contract or lease says: it is a function of taking basic care and reasonable steps to prevent damage. Leaving faucetts dripping  to prevent freezing during cold weather--especially when you will be away, and thus not able to adjust the heat, not using the faucetts (periodically running water through them), and not there to catch leaks or problems early, before they escalate, is a basic, well-known precaution. Your failure to do this would be negligent, or unreasonably careless, and would most likelly make you liable. 


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