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  1. #1
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    Jan 2017
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    Default Accused of Damage by an Undisclosed Pet After a Water Pipe Leak

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

    Hi everyone!

    A metal water pipe in my dishwasher at my apartment broke several days ago. I wasn't home at the time, so the it flooded the apartment and the apartment below mine.

    They have agreed to let me break the lease and move out since I don't wish to wait for everything to be repaired in order to move back in.

    I have a pet snake which I took with me when I went to stay in the hotel. The problem is, when my landlord came in to inspect the damage, they saw my snake's cage. My snake is a small corn snake, but I have a very large, custom made cage for him, so it looks like a cage for a large animal. I did not report my snake to my landlord when I rented the unit. I've had my snake for years and it has never caused any type of trouble and doesn't leave its cage unless I'm handling it, so I figured it would cause unnecessary trouble to report it (I accept full fault for not reporting it). My landlord immediately asked what was in the cage. I told them it was empty (which was the truth since my snake was not in the apartment at the time). My lawyer has instructed me to continue stating that the cage is empty and there is no animal inside (which is true).

    Now my landlord is claiming that the damage to the pipe looked like "chew damage". It is my belief that the landlord thinks I had a rodent in the cage which escaped and chewed the water pipe. This is obviously untrue, and they don't have any proof of this. However, I am still concerned that they will try to come after me for the damage since they believe it was me who caused it.

    My questions are:

    1. Can the landlord charge me anything for the damages without proof that I had a pet which caused the damage? They most likely have pictures of the empty cage, but nothing else.

    2. Should I continue to just state that the cage is empty or should I tell them that I did have a pet snake? This would be a violation of my lease of course, but it might be better than having them think I had a rodent that damaged their pipe. (Also, I only feed my snake frozen, pre-killed mice, but I have no way to prove that and I'm afraid they will try to claim I was feeding my snake live rodents or something)

    3. Do I need to do anything special when I move out to insure I'm not charged extra for anything?


    I would truly appreciate any advice. I just don't want to be charged for something that wasn't my fault. I know that not reporting my pet to the landlord was a very bad decision so I'm not looking for a lecture.Thanks in advance!

    ETA: Unfortunately I do not have renters insurance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    15,400

    Default Re: False Accusations--Flood Damage

    A mouse or even a rat CANNOT chew through a metal pipe. So if your landlord is honestly being stupid enough to attempt to claim that you had something living in that cage that could chew through metal, your landlord would be laughed out of court.

    I would truly appreciate any advice. I just don't want to be charged for something that wasn't my fault. I know that not reporting my pet to the landlord was a very bad decision so I'm not looking for a lecture.Thanks in advance!

    ETA: Unfortunately I do not have renters insurance.
    Its foolish not to have renter's insurance but renter's insurance wouldn't be involved here anyway. Once again, no pet could have chewed through a metal pipe. Your landlord is being absurd.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: False Accusations--Flood Damage

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    A mouse or even a rat CANNOT chew through a metal pipe. So if your landlord is honestly being stupid enough to attempt to claim that you had something living in that cage that could chew through metal, your landlord would be laughed out of court.



    Its foolish not to have renter's insurance but renter's insurance wouldn't be involved here anyway. Once again, no pet could have chewed through a metal pipe. Your landlord is being absurd.
    That was my first though as well, but I looked it up and apparently rats can chew through metal pipes. However, the "chew damage" they are talking about appears to be a single puncture in the pipe. I have trouble believing even a large rat would have a bite force strong enough to do that.

    My fear is that they are blaming this on me in order to claim insurance money, and that their insurance company will turn around and try to collect the money from us. Hopefully they would need concrete proof, but I'm uninformed about how this works.

    ETA: unfortunately my spouse was the one who was home and the time, and apparently didn't have the presence of mind to take any pictures of the damaged pipe...

  4. #4
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    Mar 2005
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    Default

    Quote Quoting piko12345
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    My lawyer has instructed me to continue stating that the cage is empty and there is no animal inside (which is true).
    Nobody here is in a better position to advise you than your lawyer.
    Quote Quoting piko12345
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    ]ETA: unfortunately my spouse was the one who was home and the time, and apparently didn't have the presence of mind to take any pictures of the damaged pipe...
    It didn't occur to her to turn off the water?

  5. #5
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    Jan 2017
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    Default Re: Accused of Damage by an Undisclosed Pet After a Water Pipe Leak

    Quote Quoting piko12345
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    That was my first though as well, but I looked it up and apparently rats can chew through metal pipes. However, the "chew damage" they are talking about appears to be a single puncture in the pipe. I have trouble believing even a large rat would have a bite force strong enough to do that.

    My fear is that they are blaming this on me in order to claim insurance money, and that their insurance company will turn around and try to collect the money from us. Hopefully they would need concrete proof, but I'm uninformed about how this works.

    ETA: unfortunately my spouse was the one who was home and the time, and apparently didn't have the presence of mind to take any pictures of the damaged pipe...
    Quote Quoting aaron
    View Post
    Nobody here is in a better position to advise you than your lawyer.

    It didn't occur to her to turn off the water?
    This happened in the middle of the night so and wasn't loud enough to wake anyone, unfortunately.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Accused of Damage by an Undisclosed Pet After a Water Pipe Leak

    regardless of anything else, since you have an attorney you should listen to your attorney.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Accused of Damage by an Undisclosed Pet After a Water Pipe Leak

    "A metal water pipe in my dishwasher at my apartment broke several days ago."

    Please explain what "metal water pipe" goes to a dishwasher? Water supply lines are typically stainless steel or polymer coated PVC. Dishwasher drain lines are corrugated PVC. Between both, the latter would have a greater tendency to be chewed through by rodents than the former.

    Gail

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Accused of Damage by an Undisclosed Pet After a Water Pipe Leak

    Quote Quoting gail in georgia
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    "A metal water pipe in my dishwasher at my apartment broke several days ago."

    Please explain what "metal water pipe" goes to a dishwasher? Water supply lines are typically stainless steel or polymer coated PVC. Dishwasher drain lines are corrugated PVC. Between both, the latter would have a greater tendency to be chewed through by rodents than the former.

    Gail
    I guess a better descriptor would have been dishwasher hose. I actually just got back in town so I hadn't seen the damage firsthand. My spouse had told me "metal pipe", but it appears to be a metal hose. Upon inspection I think it's definitely possible for a rodent to chew through it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Accused of Damage by an Undisclosed Pet After a Water Pipe Leak

    Your best bet is to "fess up" to the landlord that you own a corn snake. No way would a corn snake be able to chew through a water line.

    For what it's worth when we pulled our original dishwasher out of our own home to replace it we found water damage to the floor underneath. Besides the water damage there was evidence that a rodent (?a mouse? ?a rat?) had gotten into the house and chewed through the drain line causing the leak.

    Gail

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Accused of Damage by an Undisclosed Pet After a Water Pipe Leak

    Quote Quoting gail in georgia
    View Post
    Your best bet is to "fess up" to the landlord that you own a corn snake. No way would a corn snake be able to chew through a water line.
    The problem with that is two-fold. First, the landlord may not believe that the snake was the only pet; second, even if you want to argue that your prior statements were technically true, you establish that you've already been deceptive in relation to your having pets in the unit. The OP has a lawyer, so he should be figuring out his path forward through his lawyer.

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