Who pays for damage to a tenant’s property?

I don’t live on the property but my 1st floor tenant’s basketball hoop fell on the 3rd floor tenant’s car and smashed the windshield. The 1st floor tenant’s babysitter moved the hoop the other day near where vehicles usually park. Who is at fault here and who pays for the damage to the car?

Asked on June 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The first floor tenant would be liable, since an employee or guest of his/hers (the babysitted) was the one who caused the damage, IF the babysitter were negligent, or careless, in either where she placed the hoop or how she set it up.  However, if it was reasonable to place it where she did, and if the way she set it up was proper, she--and therefore the first floor tenant--would not be liable, since liability depends on fault. Without fault, there is no liability; so if the hoop had been set up properly in a reasonable place and, say, strong winds happened to blow it over, she and the first floor tenant would not be responsible. In that case, the third floor tenant would have to cover his own costs.

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