Do I have to pay my landlord’s insurance deductible if my guest caused water damage to the property that I rent?

UPDATED: Apr 19, 2012

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Do I have to pay my landlord’s insurance deductible if my guest caused water damage to the property that I rent?

I have a washing machine that my guest was using and malfunctioned in my upstairs apt while I was at work. I went home and cleaned the water with towels. The property management used their insurance to repair damages to prevent mold and aspestos. I had to move out of my house for 3 days without notice, they put a lock box on my door for 3 weeks and I still had to pay rent. Now they say I have to pay their $2500 deductable and gave me a bad refernce for a new rental I was trying to get. I can still use my washing machine. Do I have to pay the $2500?

Asked on April 19, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The first question is, was the washing machine provided by the landlord, or was it one you purchased and put in? If it's your machine, you are resonsible for the damage it causes.

If it's the landllord's machine, the question then is, were you, or more properly, your guest, at fault in causing the water damage? If the machine malfunctioned through no fault of you or your guest--it's old; poor maintenance; pre-existing damage; etc.--then you are not legally responsible ("liable") for the damage, UNLESS you or your guest was slow to respond to the leak (e.g. the guest did nothing when he/she saw water leaving the machine, which slowness contributed to the damage). On the other hand, if the malfunction was caused by misuse or abuse of the machine (putting in too much laundry and overfilling it, for example; or due to not reporting earlier, smaller problems with the machine, so the landlord could have made repairs and nipped this in the bud), then you would be responsible, since your actions caused the damage.

So to summarize:

Your machine--you are liable.

Landlord's machine--you are liable if you were actually at fault in causing the damage.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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