If a sump pump was unplugged sump pump and damage resulted who’s liable – the landlord or the tenant?

After a hurricane, my tenant called to tell me that the basement of the townhouse they are renting had some flooding. The cause was due to the plug of the sump pump beingonly partially in the socket. Once plugged in, the pump was functional again. I came over and  dropped off a dehumidifier and vac for the tenant to use. Tenant is worried about mold and wants repair/replace carpet. I have told them that this is their responsibility but I would help them find a company to repair and also suggested they look at their rental insurance (yes they have it). They say I am responsible. Seems not to me.

Asked on August 30, 2011 Maryland


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Here is the problem. You haven't informed us of who caused the sump pump to become unplugged. If you or your agent unplugged or caused the sump pump to unplug, you are ultimately responsible for repair and possible replacement of any damaged items, from carpeting and materials that can get mold to any personal belongings of the tenant himself or herself. If the tenant caused the sump pump to unplug (say he or she unplugged it to plug in some equipment and simply improperly plugged it in) then the tenant is responsible for the damage. If you did not cause the harm and the tenant did, inform the tenant you will gladly repair any materials, but it will be charged to the tenant to pay or you can inform the tenant he or she will have to replace and hire people to replace and repair any items with your oversight and approval of any contractors or service people.

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