Can a owner charge me for carpet shampoo for a small stain without physical proof?

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Can a owner charge me for carpet shampoo for a small stain without physical proof?

Recently, rented a vacation home for the weekend. After we left, the owner said we left a stain in the hall way which made he shampoo the whole whole. She is charging me this as damage costs. I asked her for pictures of stains, but she cannot provide them. She said her lack of pictures is due to the cleaners coming the day of, but on the cleaners invoice it was noted the next day. Also she said the cleaners will testify there were several stains on the staircase and not her original story of the hallway. Does she have anything if there’s no proof?

Asked on May 31, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Witness testimony can be evidence or proof: there is no legal requirement for pictures or other documentary evidence, though they are, in many ways, superior. If you don't believe you left this stain, you can refuse to pay, wait to see if she sues you, then either pay, see if you can settle, or defend the action (e.g. provide your own testimony to the contrary). Alternately, to avoid the risk of litigation, you may decide to either pay the full amount now, or else see if you can reach some mutually agreeable settlement.

If you elect to fight, to win in court, she would have to be able to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" (or "more likely than not") that you caused the stain and the  cost to remediate it; as stated, she can provide her own or other witness testimony, and you can provide your own testimony, too. It would likely come down to who is more credible.


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