Who is liable for damages that occur when a toilet breaks and the water valve is stuck?

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Who is liable for damages that occur when a toilet breaks and the water valve is stuck?

A few nights ago I used the bathroom. I am a 150 lb female and I did not have a sledgehammer, however, the bowl of the toilet broke which resulted in water spraying out everywhere. It is an older complex and we are assuming that there was a stress fracture in the porcelain which caused the toilet to break. We attempted to shut off the water valve to no avail. By the time maintenance arrived (who had a heck of a time shutting the water off), there was water all in the hallway and the carpet is ruined. The landlord has not returned calls. Was I negligent in using the toilet? Are we liable for this?

Asked on February 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The basic principle governing responsibility of damage to a rental is that normal wear and tear is the landlord's responsibility, while the tenant has to pay for any damage caused by their negligence or intentional acts.  Since you apparently used the toilet in an normal fashion and you in fact tried to minimize the damage by attempting to shut the water off, there is no apparent negligence on your part.  Accordingly, your landlord would bear the responsibility for repair costs. 

Note:  This rule applies to just about everything regarding rented property, unless the lease specifically says otherwise. 


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