Water heater leaks, causes damage to tenant's sofa who pays for the sofa to be replaced if there is no negligence from the landlord? 10 Answers as of April 30, 2013

We own an apartment building. The water heater from an upstairs unit leaked into a downstairs unit and caused water damage to a sofa. The tenant wants us to replace the sofa. Are we responsible for that? The water heater has worked fine and we have not been notified of any problems with it prior to it leaking.

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Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
Probably, but a lot will depend on the age of the water heater and whether there were any signs of deterioration. If you have insurance, I suggest that you turn over the claim to your insurance company and let them take care of it. If you did not carry insurance, I suggest that you contact an attorney for a face-to-face consultation and give him/her all of the facts surrounding your situation. He/she would then be in a better position to analyze your case and advise you of your options.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/21/2012
Law Offices of Frank D. Granato
Law Offices of Frank D. Granato | Frank Granato
You are responsible, but you should seek indemnification from the upstairs unit with the heater.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/21/2012
Victor Varga | Victor Varga
Landlord is responsible under your facts.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 11/20/2012
MatthewR. Schutz, Esq | Matthew R. Schutz
The tenant.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 11/20/2012
Law Offices of Mark West
Law Offices of Mark West | Mark West
Generally, so long as there indeed was no negligence on the part of the landlord, the landlord is not responsible in cases such as this. Renters' insurance should have been purchased. The only question that I would look at if I was looking at it from a renter's perspective, would be should you have known the water heater would leak; how old was it and did you or anyone on your behalf inspect it on a regular basis to make sure it was sound.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/19/2012
    Law Office of Bijal Jani | Bijal Jani
    Since it was your water heater which leaked and caused the damage, it is reasonable that you should pay for the damaged sofa.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/19/2012
    WEISSMAN LAW FIRM
    WEISSMAN LAW FIRM | I.Donald Weissman
    There are several issues raised in the facts and questions. Based on what little there is to decipher there are a couple of options. First. For damage to property, the cost to the one who causes the damage is the present cash value or the cost of repair, whichever is less. Next. You should turn the claim over to your liability carrier. Let it determine the rights and responsibilities. (Even if you want to handle it yourself, you should at least report the claim to your carrier. Should there be a lawsuit your carrier cannot refuse to defend the claim for failure on your part to notify the carrier within the time frame specified in the insurance contract.) Next. If someone other than yourself, as landlord, is responsible for the leak, you may negotiate and pay the claim then seek reimbursement from the responsible party or parties. There is a notice requirement for most claims, meaning the landlord (directly or through an agent) needs to be on notice (actual or constructive) that there is a problem and given a reasonable amount of time to resolve the situation before liability may attach. Lack of notice is a defense to any claim/lawsuit. Again, the liability carrier may be better suited to deal with these issues. Use it. That is why the insurance is there.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/19/2012
    Harper Law Offices, Inc. P.S.
    Harper Law Offices, Inc. P.S. | Joseph T. G. Harper
    These issues are typically addressed by the lease agreement and/or insurance policies. Usually the landlord is not responsible for damages or loss of tenant property unless the landlord caused the damage or loss, or failed to perform a legal duty that led to the damage or loss. This is also why tenants are encouraged, and sometimes required to have, renter's insurance.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/19/2012
    Sapiro Gottlieb & Kroll | Lawrence Kroll
    Water heaters sometimes leak, especially as they get older. If the leak is from the upstairs apartment to the downstairs apartment, I would suggest that you are responsible. It might, however, be covered under your homeowners policy. You should check with your carrier.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/19/2012
    Winnick Ruben Hoffnung Peabody & Mendel, LLC | Daniel N. Hoffnung
    What does the lease say?
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 4/30/2013
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