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  1. #1

    Default Washing Machine Malfunction Damage

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of:

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Washing Machine Malfunction Damage

    You didn't actually ask a question, nor did you identify your state.

    Appliances sometimes break down. Generally speaking, your landlord's duty in relation to any given appliance is to repair or replace it after it breaks down. It would be very unusual for the facts to support a claim against the landlord for laundry damaged when a washer breaks, food that is spoiled when the oven or refrigerator breaks, and the like.

  3. #3

    Default Washing Machine Malfunction Damage

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Washington

    I live in a 2nd floor apartment above an electronic store and chose the apartment in large part because there is a laundry room in the apartment. The washer and dryer are not specifically mentioned in the lease. (However, the bathtub, refrigerator and gas range are not mentioned as well!) The appliances are over 30 years old. One night when the washer finished its cycles, there was no more noise, I checked it was off and that the appliance light was off, closed the laundry door and went to bed. There was never a sound of running water or anything else. The next morning, an employee told me that the store below me was drenched. My apartment, however, showed only wet carpet in the laundry room and the hall outside it--which I did not discover until I learned until alerted by the employee.

    Without admitting any responsibility, I expressed regrets and offered to help with clean-up. Most of the mess was downstairs and my help was not needed as long as I slurped up water in my unit with an extractor supplied by the landlord.

    Later, the landlord expressed some reservations about having a washer in my unit at all. It seems this had happened the past before I moved in. However, the landlord is sending a repairman to check out the possibility of repairing the washer. I am willing to cooperate and participate proportionally in any reasonable cost of mitigating the possibility of a recurrence: new water supply hoses, water pan under the washer, water alarms, even a system that will automatically turn off the incoming water supply and the electric supply to the washer when a water leak is detected by a sensor.

    My specific questions:

    1) To what degree (if any) might I be responsible for the damage that has already happened?
    2) Can the landlord simply remove my laundry?
    3) If I offer to undertake the proactive measures I outlined above, will I be exposing myself to future liability?
    4) Is there anything else I should consider?

    Thank you for any alerts or reassurances you can offer!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Washing Machine Malfunction Damage

    There's not much that we can say without knowing what caused the leak.
    1) You might be responsible for damage. If an inlet hose failed you may be responsible since you should have turned the water bib off after the washing. You may also be expected to inspect and maintain these hoses.
    2) Do you have a lease in force? If yes then I'd expect that he's obligated to provide the appliances. If you do not have a lease then he can tell you to move rather than replace the washer.
    3) Any thing that you do may result in liability but nothing obvious springs to mind. I think that the water pan and alarm will please your landlord and his insurer

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Washing Machine Malfunction Damage

    Your landlord has a statutory duty to "Maintain all electrical, plumbing, heating, and other facilities and appliances supplied by him or her in reasonably good working order". RCW 59.18.060(8). As DaveM implies, if you are a month-to-month tenant, your landlord can modify your at-will tenancy to exclude the washer. He can also do so at the end of a lease term.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Washing Machine Malfunction Damage

    I retired after 35 years in the insurance industry so heed my comments.

    Quote Quoting PeterManning
    View Post

    1) To what degree (if any) might I be responsible for the damage that has already happened?
    Based on the sudden and unforeseen nature of the malfunction, your responsibility for the damage is ZERO.

    Quote Quoting PeterManning
    View Post

    2) Can the landlord simply remove my laundry?
    See Mr K's comment. A agree with that.

    Quote Quoting PeterManning
    View Post

    3) If I offer to undertake the proactive measures I outlined above, will I be exposing myself to future liability?
    That is a very distinct possibility. Talking is what gets people in trouble. Basic negligence law says you almost certainly have no liability for any of the damage so my advice is exercise your right to remain silent because anything you say can and will be used against you and in a civil matter nobody has to warn you about that so that's why I'm giving you the warning.

    Quote Quoting PeterManning
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    4) Is there anything else I should consider?
    Yes.

    Practice saying things like "Not my fault," "Not my responsibility," "No comment," "Go away."

    One more thing. Buy yourself a renter's policy if you don't already have one. Having no liability for something doesn't prevent you from getting sued.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting DaveM
    View Post
    1) You might be responsible for damage. If an inlet hose failed you may be responsible since you should have turned the water bib off after the washing. You may also be expected to inspect and maintain these hoses.
    No.

    Not true.

    Negligence law does not extend the duty of care that far.

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