If my refrigerator breaks in my apartment, does the apartment complex have to replace my food?

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If my refrigerator breaks in my apartment, does the apartment complex have to replace my food?

My refrigerator recently stopped working and my food was wasted while they tried to fix it and found that it needed to be replaced. Hundreds of dollars in groceries is now wasted.

Asked on September 25, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the circumstances. If the landlord knew the refrigerator was on its last legs, breaking down, having problems, etc., then there is a good chance the landlord might have to pay for the food, since in that circumstance, the landlord did not act in a reasonable fashion. (Knowing there was a problem, and having a duty to provide the appliances, it is unreasonable to not replace a defective one.)

On the other hand, if there was no particular warning, the landlord was not at fault--it did nothing wrong. Without fault, there is no liability and no duty to pay; the landlord is not the tenant's insurer, but is only liable when the landlord does something wrong.


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