Topic: Leak from ceiling drowned my laptop – Landlord is asking me to move out, out of nowhere
Leak from ceiling drowned my laptop – Landlord is asking me to move out, out of nowhere
Hi everyone, I was recommended this site by a friend and site member after asking where I could find information regarding my situation. I have not been able to find much in regards to it so any help is highly appreciated.
I found my laptop drowning in water due to a leak from the ceiling and is currently being left upside-down to dry. My main concerns are to not only fix the leak, which alone should not be an issue, but to also be reimbursed for the computer repair. Ideally, I’d simply like a reduction in rent by half to cover it, as water damage repair would cost at least that much.
Under the “Liability” section of the lease, it states: “Landlord is not liable for loss, expense, or damage to any person or property, unless due to Landlord’s negligence.”
This should be a clear statement that backs up landlord’s liability, as the leak is due to his negligence – it’s his apartment and pipes, I can’t possibly be liable since not only do I not own it but I never touched the leak/light fixture or any place on the ceiling to cause this to happen.
He actually has known about it because this same leak occurred about two or three years ago and they allegedly fixed it but now it’s happened again. So knowing this, the leak was never fixed properly the first time. Does this help the negligence clause then? I also could not have notified him for this recent leak because I had no opportunity – it happened and flooded my laptop all at one time.
Don’t I have a warranty of habitability and a reasonable expectation that fixes are made so that problems
don’t reoccur and also expect a leak-free apartment and reasonable expectation that I can leave my property in my apartment unharmed from the apartment itself? I have also had to sleep in the living room and cover my bed with a plastic sheet just in case there is any other leaking or damage, rendering the room unusable. I am sure there is a clause in my lease that states something about unusable parts of the apartment not being part of the rent payment as well (as long as this sum is half rent, that should cover repair cost).
I left a voicemail the next morning, no call back. I sent a letter stating that my apartment suffered extensive
water damage from a severe water leak and that this same leak had been attempted to be repaired in the past, and to arrange to come to fix it. Also that I have extensive property damage as well, and to contact me and remedy that too. No contact from him.
So I followed up in a day and called and asked if he received it. He asked me what happened even though my message was clear. After telling him a summary, the first words out of his mouth were, “I’d like you to move out. There are some renovations I want to make and you guys being there is going to make it inconvenient.” I was flabbergasted. Not only did I not expect this but he just pretty much showed he doesn’t really care about the relevant issues at hand. He wasn’t very cooperative in hearing me and understanding the situation to even accept the negotiating I asked (half rent). Even asking why I would put my computer in that place if I knew of a leak – the point is that I didn’t know, it was supposed to be fixed. I shouldn’t have to live in fear of a fixed leak for two or so years in my own bedroom.
So he wants to see the condition in person before anything else so I’ll be meeting with him late this week. I hope that he hears me out better this time but any advice on this? I’ll need to make sure he gets that this leak is no small matter, that it caused my computer issue, and that it is from a botched repair that apparently wasn’t properly done. I have pictures and video, is it wise or unwise to show him now or save them ready for further legal action if necessary?
My roommate also has renters insurance but my name isn’t on the policy. Is there anything at all I can do regarding his insurance though? Can this be considered shared/common property to cover it if I bought it (receipt billed to me) but he paid half to me in cash and we both use it?
I’ve also talked to neighbors upstairs and there does not appear to be any water leak up there so that doesn’t seem to help much (I even went into the bedroom directly above mine and could not see any remnant of water damage/leak there where my leak would be directly under – or could the bathroom to the side that’s not directly above contribute? If so, I’ll need to contact the neighbor to ask again).
If I withhold rent or even just pay the half I said I wanted to pay, would that be unwise? What are my options?
As I understand it, I’m not obligated to leave just because he tells me. I’m on a year lease (that expires middle of next year) in a rent stabilized apartment, and he is required to give me a renewal every year – is this correct? If it does go further, is it small claims court of housing court for the laptop issue? I’d rather it not go that far but I may have no choice depending on how our meeting goes late this week.
I really really appreciate any and all help. It’s crucial for me right now – my life is on this machine, I use it for work and for my income. If anything, it would behoove him to help me out with this to be able to continue paying rent. It’s under a year old and the original cost was over $2k and repair will likely be at least $1k if not more. What can I do? Thank you in advance for any support.