Does my landlord owe me for a washer install gone bad?
March 2, 2010 5:58 AM   Subscribe

My landlord installed a washer in my apartment...incorrectly. Now I have ruined clothing, do I have a right to ask for compensation?

My landlord recently decided to install a washer/dryer in my apartment in the middle of my lease. This was fantastic until the first time I used the washer and due to a mistake by the plumber, the 'cold' setting turned out to be 'super-hot'. Now I have about $200 worth of shrunken clothing I can't wear. I'm grateful that he decided to upgrade my apartment for me (even if the reason is to go condo and kick me out in September), but really annoyed about the loss of some nearly new jeans. Should I ask for some type of compensation, and if so, how? Located in MA if it makes a difference.
posted by There's No I In Meme to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Have you called your landlord yet?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:08 AM on March 2, 2010

Landlord knows there's a problem (from a roommate) and is sending someone today to fix it. She doesn't know about the clothes thing.
posted by There's No I In Meme at 6:19 AM on March 2, 2010

oh wow. document that!

does the landlord know that the problem specifically was that the cold setting was actually hot?

do you have receipts for the clothes? or proof of purchase somehow?

it wasn't really her fault it was the plumber, but still.

i'm sure if you're nice about it, you might get something. even a discount on rent for a month might be ok, rather than expecting cash for clothes.
posted by sio42 at 6:29 AM on March 2, 2010

If it was the plumber's error, I don't see how you can ask the landlord for compensation.
posted by not that girl at 6:32 AM on March 2, 2010

Ask the landlord to ask the plumber for his insurance company information.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:41 AM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

second JohnnyGunn. this is a job for professional liability insurance.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:46 AM on March 2, 2010

Yes, I would ask for some sort of compensation. Our fridge died last year and our landlord made sure we were compensated for the food we lost.

On preview, JohnnyGunn is on to something there. Look into that.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:01 AM on March 2, 2010

Yes, you are due compensation. Both the landlord and plumber are potentially liable. Document and photograph everything, including the water hook-up. I would take the friendly approach with the landlord in hopes that he/she can use their influence with the plumber to get you compensated for your clothes. Your loss would likely be the market value of the clothes, not necessarily replacement value of new clothes, although I would start there as that is the practical reality of your loss; you are not going to replace these with thrift shop duds.
posted by caddis at 7:09 AM on March 2, 2010

I'd say you ask by simply asking. "Hey, I appreciate your investing in the property and my comfort, but when the plumber hooked this up wrong it ruined some of my clothing. Can you help me get compensation from him/her for this?"

I completely disagree with not that girl. The fact that it was the plumber's error doesn't release your landlord from responsibility. It makes it his problem to harass the contractor to make right their screw-up, but if he'd hired a roofer who made the place unlivable you wouldn't think that meant you didn't have a right to withhold rent till the problem was fixed and the place livable again.

You can be polite but firm. "What can we do to get these damaged items replaced?" If he's unresponsive to that then you need to make a decision about how hard you're willing to push on the matter.
posted by phearlez at 7:52 AM on March 2, 2010

I am neither a lawyer nor a plumber. However, I believe the landlord is responsible to you, and the plumber is responsible to the landlord. So you deduct the replacement cost of your clothes from the rent, and landlord recovers this from the plumber.
posted by zippy at 11:04 AM on March 2, 2010

If you paid $200 for the clothes when you bought them, they would have been worth about $20 by the time your washer ruined them. Shit happens – let it go.
posted by halogen at 11:12 AM on March 2, 2010

Not so sure, halogen. Even if they're worth less now, the OP still has to go and buy new clothes (spending way more than $20). This means the OP has to spend more money in a much smaller time frame than the normal wear-and-tear would have determined. It's an unexpected and damaging expense that could have been avoided with competent plumbing.

I'm with phearlez: "What can we do to get these damaged items replaced?" is a very good approach, giving your landlord the chance to fix this before you need to take a more iron fist approach.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 11:39 AM on March 2, 2010

Have you checked your lease? I have a clause in mine that says basically "if there is any damage to tenant's possessions caused by the fridge or washing machine the tenant will not seek compensation from the landlord".

Note: My landlord is a solicitor.
posted by cardamine at 12:54 PM on March 2, 2010

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