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Water damage responsibility Repairs, Maintenance

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by Jccs81, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. Jccs81

    Jccs81 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    I had a question about who would be responsible for damages in the following situation.

    I have a 3 story townhome rental property. Recently my tenant alerted me to a situation where he had noticed water stains and mold in the first floor garage ceiling. After the plumber came by to take a look and cut a hole in the garage ceiling, it turned out that the second floor toilet had been leaking water out of a deteriorated wax ring. It seemed like it had been going on for a while just based on the mold that had formed and a blackened stain around the base of the toilet.

    Who is responsible for payment for the damages in this situation? Am I within my right to take this out of the security deposit or is this an owner pays kind of situation?

    Thank you for any advice.
     
  2. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    How long has the tenant lived there? Do you perform inspections of your property? If so, when was the last inspection? Please clarify "a while"....a month? 6 months? A year?
     
  3. Jccs81

    Jccs81 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The tenant has lived there for five plus years and has generally taken good care of the property. We typically respond to repair calls but do not currently perform an inspection. We do plan to perform one now due to this situation.

    Just based on the mold and stain it looked like it had to have been at least 3-6 months if not more. Note that the leaking occurs when the toilet was flushed.
     
  4. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    How much damage was done ($$)? Were you not performing inspections due to COVID or was this always your practice? Did the tenant give you a reason for not reporting the damage sooner? If so, what was the reason? Does your lease address tenant responsibility to report maintenance issues...if so, what does it state?

    I'm just asking clarifying questions...hopefully one of the volunteers that are knowledgeable on CA LL/Tenant law will be around soon.

    @Zigner @zddoodah
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You.

    That's the cost of owning a rental.

    No.

    Yes.

    The tenant couldn't have known about the wax ring and he reported the stains as soon as he noticed them. Garage ceilings aren't something that one specifically looks at every day going in and out. Garage lighting is not bright. Usually lit by the light from the operator. Stains aren't noticeable until they are. I don't look at my own garage ceiling. I couldn't tell you right now if there were any stains in my garage ceiling without going in to look. I've owned this house for 2 years and rarely even turn on the ceiling lights.

    No, this is not something you charge the tenant for.
     
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  6. Jccs81

    Jccs81 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    After mold remediation and repairs, it came out to about 4000 dollars. We hadn’t been performing inspection. We typically relied on tenant to report issues. The most noticeable indicator of an issue was a stain forming around the base of the toilet which they said they had noticed before but didn’t connect to there being an issue until they saw the garage stains. The lease states that the tenant has to make immediately report issues to the owner to address. They had done so in the past but it was this situation where it was unclear if there could’ve been more done ahead of time before it got worse.

    An inspection may have caught it but depends on the timing.

    thank you
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    "Unclear" is the operative word. My experience as a former landlord tells me that a court would find for the tenant if you charged him for the damage.

    BTW, have you contacted your insurance company to see if the repairs are covered?
     
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  8. Jccs81

    Jccs81 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    We did contact our insurance company. They said they only cover in instances where the damage was sudden and unexpected like a burst pipe or toilet overflowing. When there’s mold, it likely indicates damage over a period of time.
     
  9. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    True. Just didn't want you to leave that stone unturned.
     
  10. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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  11. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    On second thought, I just took a look at a sample HO-3 Homeowners policy. I could find no such limitation in the Coverage A - Dwelling exclusions (other than the mold exclusion itself).

    What policy form do you have on the townhouse?

    You can upload a copy of the policy booklet for me to take a look at.
     
  12. Jccs81

    Jccs81 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks. I’m pretty sure the exclusion is from the following in the rental policy. Under “Losses not covered”

    continuous or repeated seepage or leakage of water or steam from a:
    (1) heating, air conditioning or automatic fire protective sprin- kler system;

    (2) household appliance; or
    (3) plumbing system, including from, within or around any shower stall, shower bath, tub installation, or other plumbing fixture, including their walls, ceilings or floors;

    which occurs over a period of time and results in deterioration, corro- sion, rust, mold, or wet or dry rot. If loss to covered property is caused by water or steam not otherwise ex- cluded, we will cover the cost of tearing out and replacing any part of the residence premises necessary to repair the system or appliance. We do not cover loss to the system or appliance from which the water or steam escaped;
     
  13. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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