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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Default Landlord's Property Damage Claim After Moving In with No Lease

    So I moved into this house last under kind of strange circumstances. First, there was no lease, second I met the property owner for all of five minutes, third he never gave me his address so I could send him rent (I eventually tracked it down and made payments every month) and finally we never discussed when I was to move out. Now he is suing me for property damages. I Just kind guessed I should be out in May (it was a seasonal rental home), so early may I found a house and started moving in. I paid some friends to move my stuff for me. I had hired someone to clean the house the last week of May. Well in-between the time I had moved out and before the cleaners started his son went in to the house and it was a mess and there was 3 inches of water on the floor in the basement, not sure why but I had not been there for a couple of weeks(He apparently took pictures). The cleaners cleaned it the next day. He is suing me for 1800$ in damages. Should I get a lawyer or do I have nothing to worry about?

  2. #2

    Default Re: No lease/property damage

    If you just deny that you had anything to do with it, and refuse to pay him, the landlord may be forced to to proceed to court. He will have to have some type of evidence that you were personally responsible through your negligent actions or omissions. Photos of water will not suffice. He would also have to have some evidence of the damage that the water caused - water, per se, is not damage. And estimates for water damage will not suffice - he will need receipts for actual payment of remediation of actual damage. If you have your evidence that you were not inhabiting the house at the time the damage occurred, and otherwise had no connection to the cause of the water leak or flow or water damage, then you should be ok at court. But you evidence as well. To bolster your defense, you should get - now - in anticipation of any future ramifications - signed, notarized statements from your friends who moved you and the cleaners, that state the dates they were in the house and that they observed no water damage on those dates; save any receipts or bills that indicate when you were out of the rented house and into the new house. How do you know that the son was in the house? Whatever evidence, statements or witnesses who know of this fact, needs to be documented. Contact the son by phone if possible, and ask him about the circumstances. Take notes and make your own declaration. If you know of the origin of the water (water heater? Washing machine overflow?), you could do some type of independent research on how that much water flow could have occurred. Could it be possible that the cleaners accidentaly left something on? As the hirer of the cleaners you might be found to be liable, as you are supposed to adequately direct, supervise and oversee their work, but they could be found to be negligent as well (or any actor who caused the water to flow unchecked). You could counter-sue if necessary. In any event, the fact there were several people in the house after you left, could place doubt in a judge's eyes on the landlord's claim that you were exclusively responsible for anything that may have occurred inside the house. You could obviate a lawsuit once both you and the landlord know all the facts, and know what the actual damage is, and if you think you are negligent based on a legal premise, then you could work out a compromise. But as a starting point, you both need to discuss where the water came from, why, who, what actual damage did it cause, cost to repair, etc. Once you know where the water came from, consider if the leak was caused by something that was already broken or needed fixing prior to you renting the house. Possibly the landlord knew of or was warned of a broken pipe and maybe he put tape around it instead of hiring a plumber to replace the pipe (or something of that nature). If you do come to some resolution where you agree to pay for anything, make sure whatever settlement you reach is documented and that there is language that the settlement amount is full and final payment for whatever damage occurred - seen and unseen, known and unknown. Maybe this is some scam he pulls with every tenant. ????? Maybe check small claims and municipal court records for all lawsuits where his name pops up.

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