What to do if the garage door at my apartment was damaged by an unknown person?

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What to do if the garage door at my apartment was damaged by an unknown person?

About a week ago someone, unknown to my knowledge, backed into my garage door at the apartment complex that I rent from. It was brought to my knowledge by another tenant. I then called my landlord and notified them immediately. Today I received a letter in the mail with a bill attached for $350 to fix the door, due in 10 days. I am a full time college student and I do not have the money to fix this. I am wondering what to do? No where in my lease does it say I am responsible for exterior damage done to the building that is not done by me. Are they negligent for not having security cameras?

Asked on June 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, they are not negligent for not having security cameras for this purpose. However, they can only hold you liable for  this damage if they can show or prove that you, or a guest of yours, did it; that  is, you would not be liable for damage done by some third party not under your control. If you do not pay, they will either have to sue you for the money (and prove in court by a preponderance of the evidence, or "more likely than not," that you did the damage) or else take it from your security deposit; if they do the latter, you could then sue them for its return, having to prove in court that it was not you who did this. You could use witness testimony (yours or other persons') about your whereabouts at the time or that you didn't do this, as well as other evidence, such as photographic evidence that your car has no matching damage.


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