Who’s Legally Responsible for a Burst Pipe, Tenant or Landlord?

by Apr 29, 2019Law0 comments

One benefit to living in an apartment building centers on how the landlord takes care of many common problems. Minor plumbing troubles such as a leaky faucet or clogged drain won’t usually require the average tenant to pay any money. A burst pipe may be a different matter. Burst pipes could cause massive damage and need an expensive fix. Questions about who pays for the plumbing work when a pipe shatters may arise. If you’re concerned about these questions, here are three points worth thinking over.

What Does the Contract Say?

Review the terms present in the lease contract. There will be items covered and exclusions. Be sure you know what is and isn’t covered before signing the lease. In some cases, repair may be partially covered with the tenant responsible for a deductible payment.

Legal issues arise regarding apartment dwellers, landlords, and maintenance costs. Beings responsible for the plumbing inside the apartment may be acceptable to some tenants. If the landlord expects you to pay for decayed pipes well inside the wall, this might be neither reasonable or even legal. In Alabama, for a residential lease, the Alabama Uniform Landlord Tenant act governs what landlords may or may not make you responsible for.

Why Did it Break?

The issue of fault may arise when trying to figure out who pays for what. If you damaged the plumbing due to negligence, the landlord might bill you. The improper use of a toilet, disposing items that can clog and back up plumbing systems or physical damage to the building could be examples of negligence that leaves a tenant on the hook for costs.

Remember, the landlord’s insurance policy could cover certain losses. Pipes that break due to freezing weather, for example, may be covered under the policy. Some policies, however, may exclude this very incident. So, each situation and insurance matter must be looked over individually. And remember, even if the landlord has insurance, insurance doesn’t always cover general wear on the pipes. A tenant who recently moves into an apartment could find him/herself dealing with aged plumbing that will naturally break down over time. This is considered in the realm of normal wear and tear. It should be covered by the landlord.

Talk to an Attorney

In some instances, a tenant may have to pay out of pocket for plumbing repairs. Emergencies commonly require immediate responses. If the landlord won’t pay, then the tenant takes on the loss. This unexpected expense can be a significant burden to tenants, which is why many turn to emergency loans in this situation. While the landlord may offer to reimburse the tenant later on, the tenant will still have to come up with funds to cover the repairs.

If the landlord does not agree to pay, you can speak with an attorney over the matter to see about recovering losses. Hopefully, the issue won’t require going beyond small claims court. If you pay for something the landlord legally needs to cover, then the court might rule in your favor. Sadly, you won’t get the time lost back.

It is always a good idea, before renting from a new landlord, to understand how they deal with emergencies. Do your homework and consider renter’s insurance to help defray some of the costs that are under your realm of responsibility.