Renter's bed destroyed by roof leak: Who should pay?

Posted at 3:52 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 22:20:01-04

You're a renter. Your stuff is damaged. You blame the landlord, and they say "not my fault." So who's responsible?

Daniel Moye says his bed was ruined while renting at the Lindsay Park Apartments in Mesa.

Moye tells us he woke up to a stream of water coming down from the ceiling. It was a roof leak.

But Moye says he couldn't get the landlord to pay for a new bed.

He let me know, and that's when the Better Business Bureau team took over.

Volunteer Jay got the case, made the calls, and got the same response.

Lindsay Park's attorney says, "There was damage caused due to nobody's negligence... There is no way my client could have known of the leak until it was reported."

And then the leak was repaired.

The attorney says that's why tenants have renter's insurance.

But Moye's insurance denied the claim.

Daniel says that's "because it wasn't something I caused, and they told me because the damage was caused by the complex roof, that they were responsible."

And the cost of that bed?

It was just $323.

So what do you think? Who should pay?

You make the call.

Go to the Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me right there.

Lindsay Park's attorney says Moye was let out of his contract without penalty and that they went over and above what the law required.

Here's the attorney's full comment:

Whether the leak was in Mr. Moye's control or not is not legal standard.  The apartment community required renter's insurance for this sort of thing.  The leak was beyond my client's control as well.  My client was not aware of a leak, and the leak was not present when Mr. Moye moved in.  Mr. Moye has exclusive control of the premises, and while we are not stating that he cause the leak, there is no way my client could have known of the leak until it was reported by Mr. Moye. 

I am attaching the proof of renter's insurance Mr. Moye provided when he moved in.  This shows that his personal property had coverage as well.  If Mr. Moye did not make a claim, or choose to let his policy lapse, that is his responsibility.   

Based upon my dealings with this matter, I believe Mr. Moye knows he has no legal claim against my client.  He has sought out a mediator, which my client informed him that they had returned his deposit less any cleaning or damages Mr. Moye would have been responsible for, and then sought out you to attempt to further extort my client.  If Mr. Moye really believe he had a legal claim, he would have filed a small claims suit. 

I'm not sure which legal experts you've consulted, but there is a general consensus that the landlord is not liable for a tenant's personal property unless there is some sort of negligence on the landlord's part, or intentional act.  In Mr. Moye's case, there clearly was no intentional act, and there was no negligence claim.  You seem to claims that the landlord has some sort of strict liability for all tenant's property regardless of the cause of damage, simply because those items were stored inside the rented unit.  If this was the case, either rental rates would necessarily go up, or there would no longer be a rental market. 

The reality of this situation is that there was damage caused due to nobody's negligence.  The Landlord was required to make the necessary repairs to the unit, once notified, and the Landlord did make those repairs.  The tenant was still unhappy, so the Landlord offered to allow him to transfer to a different unit, with no charge for the transfer, or to be released early from his lease.  If the tenant chooses to be released early from his lease, they agree to waive any claims they think they might have against the landlord, and agree to keep their release confidential.  Mr. Moye did not sign that agreement, but expects that my client hold their end by not charging him for terminating his lease early.  The repair to the unit had been made, and my client was not required to do any more, but they attempted to help an unhappy tenant.  This tenant left believing that the landlord by releasing him admitted to some sort of fault or liability, and thought he could get some money out of them, rather than making a claim on his own renter's insurance.  My client is not the bad guy here.  They went beyond what the law requires of them. 

Thayne K. Cullimore, Esq.
Managing Attorney

Need my help? "Like" the Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about the issue there.

The Better Business Bureau volunteers are solving consumer problems and saving you money everyday.

You can call them at 1-855-323-1515 or send an email. You can also follow us onTwitter.

Check out the latest scams we're seeing. Sign up for our monthly email newsletter by clicking here.

AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!  If you want to be a volunteer and help other consumers, let me know.