What are my rights against my landlord for damage to my electronics due to power surges?

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What are my rights against my landlord for damage to my electronics due to power surges?

Last month the house I rent out a room in started having power surges every time the refrigerator turned on (over a dozen times a day). My landlord immediately contacted an electrician to come and investigate, but the electrician never showed. Landlord then did nothing for 3 weeks until the surges escalated, causing many electronics in the house to burn out. The most expensive item to repair was a TV; this all resulted in hundreds of dollars of repairs. Power is fixed now and it turns out a squirrel chewed through the power line last month. Is this a case of gross negligence on the landlords part?

Asked on April 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is probably not "gross negligence," but even if not at that level, it may well be negligence still--a reasonable person, with notice of frequent electrical problems, would have taken action; and if the first electrician doesn't show, then you call a second one. If the landlord did negligently cause damage to your property, you may be able to sue him for compensation equal to its then value (which may still be less than what it costs to replace, since used electronics are not worth as much as brand new ones; however, any compensation is much better than none). You could retain an attorney to help you, or look to perhaps bring a negligence claim in small claims court yourself, which is quicker and cheaper. Good luck.


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