Is honesty the best policy?
July 23, 2008 8:39 AM   Subscribe

How should I handle a broken window at my apartment?

Last night, I was standing out on my balcony with some guests when a june bug flew into my face. I was startled, and jumped a bit. Unfortunately, I was standing next to my window and my sudden movement shattered the glass.

My guests suggested telling my landlords that I didn't break the window, but came home to find it in such a state due to someone throwing a stone or a large stick at it in my absence. I wanted to run this situation by the hivemind before proceeding.

Obviously, I'd like to get this taken care of without losing my deposit or damaging my rental history. I live in Washington state, if that makes a difference. Should I tell the truth when reporting this damage, or go with the recommendation of my guests? Would either scenario make that much of a difference? The true cause of the damage is accidental, but I'm worried that won't matter. I'm in good standing with my landlords, love my apartment and have no intentions of moving out anytime soon.

What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you really have to ask this question? You broke it, pay up.
posted by electroboy at 8:47 AM on July 23, 2008 [6 favorites]

I'd worry about having to fill out (falsify) a police report.
posted by giraffe at 8:48 AM on July 23, 2008

Lying and saying a vandal broke it would be theft, since your damage deposit is just so things like this can be paid for. Think of it this way, if you were in a china shop and dropped a plate by accident, would it really be good behaviour to claim that you found the plate that way?

Own up with the full story, and your rental history should be fine, especially if you don't try to escape paying.
posted by Phalene at 8:49 AM on July 23, 2008

Accidents happen. Call the landlord and explain that a window's been broken, and ask for a recommendation of who you can have come out to fix it. A glass company (maybe you have "Glass Doctor" franchises out there?) isn't as expensive as you might think. Don't lie over this - it's not worth losing your credibility.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:51 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lieing will certainly not help your standing with your landlords. If they have been landlords for any length of time they have dealt with far worse things than broken windows. They will probably appreciate your candor, but if you want to add a little insurance you could offer to fix it/have it fixed yourself.
posted by TedW at 8:51 AM on July 23, 2008

do you have home (renter's) insurance? can you claim on it?
posted by altolinguistic at 8:58 AM on July 23, 2008

You don't say whether it's a complex multi-pane window or a simple storm window. If it's simple to get out, you could take it to any hardware store that advertises glass cutting. If you are really so scared about what your landlord will think [although I can't understand why], you could just get it fixed if you don't have the skills to do it yourself. It will probably cost in the low tens of dollars.

(I think "your guests" should be ashamed. As you and your guests grow up, you will find that you make mistakes sometimes. Handling them honorably is part of being an adult.)
posted by putril at 8:59 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Imagine this possible scenario: You tell the landlord that someone else broke it. Later, the landlord says, "Guess what? I'm pretty sure I know who broke your window, and now I'm going to... ask them to pay for it... evict them from their apartment... etc." What would you do then?

I see that you asked this question anonymously. I think that shows that deep down you know you should not lie about this?
posted by Houstonian at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2008

Be honest. 3rd option: learn how to fix it yourself.
posted by quarterframer at 9:08 AM on July 23, 2008

You have three options:

a) Lie about how it was broken, potentially having to file a fake insurance claim and/or police report. Either way, I highly doubt your insurance deductible is less that the cost to fix the window. I'll ignore the moral issues here, they've been covered up thread.
b) Be honest about how it broke, and ask your landlord to fix it. This cost will come out of your damage deposit. On the upshot, landlords usually have connections and can get things fixed cheaper than us mere renters can. That doesn't mean he'll pass the savings on however, depending on the shadiness of your landlord.
c) Fix it yourself, or get it fixed. Your landlord may never have to know.
d) Tell your landlord you broke it, and that you'll get it fixed, but ask if knows anyone.

Personally, I think the right answers are (b), (c) or (d).
posted by cgg at 9:10 AM on July 23, 2008

Errr... four options. I apparently can't count.
posted by cgg at 9:10 AM on July 23, 2008

Ideally, you have renter's insurance.

But yeah, 'fess up and don't squawk if it's taken out of your deposit. Especially since you like your landlords.
posted by desuetude at 10:09 AM on July 23, 2008

The true cause of the damage is accidental, but I'm worried that won't matter.

Your landlord is much more likely to assume the damage is accidental if you call and say you accidentally bumped into your window. But why are you worried that it ¨won´t matter¨?

Let me guess, you think that you should not have to pay for the window if it was an accident. You broke something, the right thing to do is own up and fix it. If you broke a friend´s vase, would you buy them a new one only if you had done it on purpose? Own up to it and either pay the landlord for having it fixed or get it fixed yourself.

Don´t want it taken out of your deposit? Tell them to let you know how much you owe them so you can pay it back as soon as possible.

Depending on how your lease is written, you may be responsible for damages, period, no matter who caused them, in which case blaming it on someone else won´t get you off the hook.
posted by yohko at 10:24 AM on July 23, 2008

You're more likely to lose your good standing with your landlord if you try to make up a story rather than just tell them the truth and offer to pay to fix it.
posted by drezdn at 10:45 AM on July 23, 2008

My guests suggested telling my landlords that I didn't break the window, but came home to find it in such a state due to someone throwing a stone or a large stick at it in my absence.

That would be a lie. Your parents probably raised you better than that.

I've broken things in rental apartments before, and it's never caused a problem with the next rental. You might have to pay for it, you might not. But tell the truth, for Pete's sake.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:16 PM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I broke my window, my apartment managers didn't even ask what happened. Just sent a guy over, like any other maintenance request.

Don't provide extra info, don't offer to pay, don't tell a story, just say you have a problem that needs to be fixed.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 8:54 PM on July 23, 2008

Tell the truth, you'll feel better. I don't think it's that big of a deal, people probably bresk windows all the time (by accident, I mean).

I don't think apartment windows are supposed to break if you just bump into them. For whatever that's worth.
posted by KAS at 10:59 AM on July 24, 2008

« Older Can you fix the Internet I broke?   |   How do you remove background noise in Final Cut? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.