As a guest for 1 night, can I be held as the sole party responsible for water damage to a rental apartment below if I have no idea how the damage occurred?

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As a guest for 1 night, can I be held as the sole party responsible for water damage to a rental apartment below if I have no idea how the damage occurred?

Severe water damage occurred to the apt. below while I was visiting a friend. I spent the night and the next morning we each took separate showers. The tenants below claimed $9000 worth of water damage. I have no idea how the damage happened. The contractor states that the tub ‘might have’ overflowed. The insurance company has just sent me a letter claiming that they have concluded that I am fully responsible for the damage and they want me to send them a check for $9000. I am not on the lease. What options do I have? Why is my friend not responsible for his own apartment?

Asked on April 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is entirely possible that you during the period of your occupancy of a unit as a guest caused water intrusion issues to the rental apartment below the unit you were inhabiting. However, the person or persons claiming that you caused the problem has the burden of proving the claims against you.

Bottom line is that if you caused the water intrusion damage at the unit below the one you were occupying, you very well could be held responsible for the repairs. I suggest that you consult with your host as to whether or not he has any insurance that possibly could cover the damage claims with respect to the downstairs unit.

Technically, under the law, the person causing the damage to another person is responsible for payment for the damages. I suggest that you ask for the insurance company's reports with respect to the incident so that you can prepare your defense to the claims against you.


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