Can my landlord charge me for water damage from her leaking air conditioner?

UPDATED: Jun 1, 2011

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Can my landlord charge me for water damage from her leaking air conditioner?

The A/C is split and leaking inside. There was tile/hardwood floor put down improperly and it is damaged and buckling. We have no rental/lease agreement and I would like to know who is the liable party in this situation. I spoke to my landlord and she told me, “You are going to pay to have this fixed”. What should I do? The unit leaks about a half a quart of water an hour. She’s telling me that I didn’t notify her of the problem quickly enough.

Asked on June 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The issue is, who is at fault?

Generally, the landlord, not the tenant, would be liable for damages caused by a leaking air conditioner, unless it was the tenant who caused the damage in some fashion--for example, the tenant misused the air conditioner, hit it, put something heavy on it which damaged it, etc.

However, there may be cases where the tenant was aware of a problem, one which the landlord could not independently become aware of it, and if the tenant negligently fails to notify the landlord, so that the landlord suffers losses, the tenant may be liable. Alot depends on how obvious the leak is; how long it went on before you said anything; other actions you took (did you put a basin under it to catch the water?); did the landlord have any other way to know; etc.

In short, usually the landlord would be responsible, but from what you write, you could be in this case. You may wish to try to work out some settlement you  can both live with.

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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