Raining in the apartment
March 5, 2006 6:25 PM   Subscribe

The apartment upstairs had a water leak (so they say) yesterday in the middle of the night, and by the time I got up and noticed it, there was about a foot of water over everything in the kitchen and living room. We called the landlord company and they sucked out most of the water. Who's responsible for damages for damaged electronics (laptop), food, and other problems (bumpy tiled kitchen floor or stained carpets)? We rent.
posted by lpctstr; to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Your renter's insurance will cover this. That's what it's for.
posted by kindall at 6:34 PM on March 5, 2006

Please tell me you have renter's insurance?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:38 PM on March 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Your landlord is responsible for any damages to the structure [floor and carpets], you are generally expected to have coverage for the contents. If you don't, you'll need to see if you can work out arrangements with either the landlord or the upstairs renters. Depending on the value of the personal items that got destroyed, this may wind up being a small claims case, though I'd pursue most other avenues first. Here is the Illinois Tenant Law information.
posted by jessamyn at 6:43 PM on March 5, 2006

If you don't have renter's insurance, then hopefully you have a warrantee for the laptop. Your landlord should be responsible for any damage to the apartment (your kitchen floor and stained carpets).
posted by purephase at 6:45 PM on March 5, 2006

Most of what I'm reading about renter's insurance says that you should get it because the landlord isn't responsible for your property if the damage wasn't his fault (here). If this was caused by some kind of negligence on the owner's part, that would imply you have some recourse. Maybe this just applies to certain states?
posted by transona5 at 7:31 PM on March 5, 2006

If the upstairs tenant is at fault for the leak, and they have renters insurance, it may cover your stuff.
posted by kimdog at 8:03 PM on March 5, 2006

By the way, I pay $13/monthly for our renters insurance. There's no reason not to have it.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:07 PM on March 5, 2006

Your profile says you're a student. If it applies to you, check with your parents to see if their insurance covers a child away at college. Some policies have such a clause.
posted by acoutu at 8:09 PM on March 5, 2006

I'm guessing it was a busted water heater. This happened to me. It was a pain.

I think you would run into issues trying to claim that a water heater that springs a leak is the fault of the landlord. Certainly they are expected to keep things in working order but that doesn't mean pro-actively replacing a water heater that's working fine just because it might rupture. Water heaters just do this every now and then, I don't think it's possible to completely prevent it from happening.

So, I would expect that you either make a claim against your renters insurance or suck it up and replace the damage to your property yourself.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:36 PM on March 5, 2006

My landlord replaced a laptop and curtains damaged by faulty heating. My neighbor had to pay for damges caused by leaving his water on. I am out the door and downstairs like a shot with the shop vac when my sink overflows.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:45 PM on March 5, 2006

Rhomboid: I'm guessing it was a busted water heater.

There are two principal modes of water heater failure: 1) the thermostat fails, the water boils over and is released by a safety valve on the top, and 2) debris collects in the bottom of the tank causing a heat differential that cracks the glass liner.

In the first case the safety valve is supposed to be connected to a drain hose that many people neglect to install. This is negligence.

In the second case it is more the fault of whoever is suppling water with all this particulate matter.

However, the single biggest cause of apartment floods, and, I believe, the largest source of insurance claims in apartment buildings, occurs when the rubber hoses connecting to a washing machine degrade. These things are only rated for 5 to 7 years. Washing machines were designed for basements of houses, with drains.

In an apartment building there should be either a drained pan under the washer or an electrical auto shutoff at the supply connection. This type of failure is predictable, even though many people do not protect against it. This could be negligent on the part of the washing machine owner or installer.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:04 PM on March 5, 2006

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