What to do if I have a situation where I accidentally clogged a toilet/caused it to overflow and I am being charged with the full amount of the repairs?

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What to do if I have a situation where I accidentally clogged a toilet/caused it to overflow and I am being charged with the full amount of the repairs?

I have a situation where I accidentally clogged a toilet/caused it to overflow, and am being charged with the full amount of the repairs. I lost my contract, and have requested a new one, but this has not happened yet. To my knowledge, I never received a checklist of everything in the house on paper, with its preexisting condition, that I signed. I have done everything possible to clean the area on my own, minus spend any money for professional repairs. Further I have notified, and others have notified my landlord in the past, of the problems with this particular toilet.

Asked on June 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if a tenant causes damage to a landlord's property either intentionally (deliberately) or negligently (unreasonably carelessly), he or she is responsible for the cost to repair or replace. If the damage is not the tenant's fault--e.g. it is due to a pre-existing problem, poor maintenance, faulty construction, etc.--then the tenant is not liable. So the issue is essentially factual: what caused the overflow? And if litigation results (either the landlord sues you for the money; or takes the cost out of your security deposit and you sue him/her for its return), the issue will come down to who is more credible and/or who has better evidence or documentation on his/her side.


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