What can I do if my landlord refuses to pay charges from a water leak that was not caused by me?

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What can I do if my landlord refuses to pay charges from a water leak that was not caused by me?

There was a water leak under the bathroom sink that was apparently caused by a loose valve. I made the leak stop by turning the loose valve. The landlord sent someone to repair and reported that no leak was found but the valve was tightened. Now they are charging me for all costs related to the water leak even though I did not cause it.

Asked on December 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This is a factual issue: if you had caused the leak, the landlord could seek recovery/compensation from you; but if you did not, the landlord cannot. So the answer depends on the facts.

If you do not believe that you caused the leak, you have the option of not paying the charge; then if the landlord tries to sue you for it or take other legal action, of defending yourself by undercutting his evidence that you caused it and/or presenting your own evidence and testimony that you did not. (Or the landlord takes it out of your security deposit, you could sue him for the return.)

Of course, you need to balance the cost the landlord wants you to pay vs. the potential costs and other negative effects (e.g. damaging your landlord-tenant relationship; the time and emotional aggravation involved) of litigation, to determine if perhaps it makes more sense to pay.


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