What to do if I have been asked to pay $3,500 by my landlord’s insurer for an accident thatI caused?

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What to do if I have been asked to pay $3,500 by my landlord’s insurer for an accident thatI caused?

I was asked to pay $3,500 by my landlord’s insurance because the water damage I caused to the apartment (forgot to turn water off for 20 minutes while my 1 year baby were crying and needed help). I looked at the claims they sent me, many of which I disagree with, including replacing the sink and cabinet in the bathroom, redo the walls, glasses, etc. My security deposit had already been collected by the landlord and I have no assets; I’m still a student with kids. I cannot afford to pay $3,500. Now a law firm representing them is collecting money from me, ask me to pay immediately or they will sue.

Asked on October 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, you do  not dispute your liability, or fault--or the idea that you are responsible to pay something--but rather dispute the amount of money. You have four options:

1) Pay the amount, including possibly working out a payment plan to pay over time.

2) Try to negotiate some amount you can and are willing to pay: you should, for example, back up negotiations with pictures, quotes for repairs, etc. which show that a) not all the damage was caused by you; b) it's not as bad as the landlord is claiming; and/or c) it can be repaired more cheaply.

3) Don't pay, force the landlord to sue you, and defend yourself in court with the evidence described above. If you can actually show these things, you have a reasonable chance of getting the amount reduced; but without favorable evidence, you will likely lose.

4) Regardless of which route you take, if you end up owing more than you can pay, one option to consider is bankruptcy.

If possible, you should have an attorney represent you. If you can't afford one, try contacting Legal Services. Good luck.


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