Can we sue our property manager or hold them accountable for negligence?

On Jan 15th this year a pipe burst in our home in Up State NY. We are now looking at total loss as it was not discovered until March 3rd by the water company. The house was empty at the time. Our property manager maintains that she was in the house in the second week of Feb and everything was fine, no water and heat was working, we now know this to be a complete untruth or she saw the water and left. We know from the Gas company that no heat was on in the house from middle of January also probably when the water first started leaking By the second week of Feb the property was probably already destroyed. We have just received the water bill and it’s not for the faint hearted, luckily we have great insurance that is going to cover 90 of everything, but we get no mortgage relief or loss of earnings. It could take up to 6 months for renovation to be complete. Thank you in advance for any advice.

Asked on April 21, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

d on what you write, you probably do have a claim against her for the *direct* losses or costs arising out of her negligence or intentional bad act, such as the 10% of repair/replacement costs not covered by insurance, lost earnings or wages directly traceable to the damage (e.g. if you were forced to miss work to deal with the consequences; or if you would have rented the space out, but could not due to the damage). Either she was not checking on the property, which was negligent and allowed the damage to get worse than it would have been otherwise; or she was there, saw damage, but deliberately decided to not do anything about, again causing the ultimate or resulting damage to be worse than it needed to be. You do not have a claim for mortgage relief, though--you have to pay the mortgage no matter what, whether the property is intact or damaged, so the damage adds nothing to your mortgage.


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