Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Business & FinanceRenting & Real Estate · 3 weeks ago

Newer landlord seeking advice on tenant damages.?

I started leasing an apartment to this tenant in September of 2016, and have been quite pleased with them as they had always been quiet, paid rent on time, and were quick to notify me when their hot water heater went out in 2017.

Today, however, I get a message from the tenant saying they are suspecting mold growth and caused by water damage in their bathroom. They said they noticed a large crack going up the side of their tub and that the drywall is soft to the touch. They said they went to get inside the tub and heard a loud pop and noticed the crack when they came out.

I went over to investigate, and while the apartment was clean, the bathroom did show signs that to me seemed clear of mildew/mold on the walls by the tub. I also heard a cracking sound when walking over the floor to the tub. To me, it sounds like the issue has been going on for a while, but due to the tenant neglecting to inform me in a timely manner has let it become more serious. I don't know how educated they were on signs of mold, as it was hidden in corners mainly, but this was their first place.

Either way, it sounds like I'm going to have to use their security deposit, but while I wait on my insurance company to decide whether they will cover this or not, what would you recommend when it comes to making the tenant pay for additional expenses assuming the company denies the claim? I realize I could sue, but I'd like to be fair should I have to charge them.

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  • ron h
    Lv 7
    3 weeks ago

    My only comment is that a LL should inspect every 30 to 90 days when you collect the rent.  Just a quick walk through, lookin' for leaky faucets and toilets that run all the time. I never cared if my tenant's bed was made,  but I think that mold was there for a while..

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  • 3 weeks ago

    This problem is one of far longer standing than your tenancy. It's not the tenant's fault that your plumbing was not sound, and you can't charge them for it, or use their deposit for repairs. This is one on you. 

    Your tenants are responsible for wear and tear, and reporting problems in a timely fashion, BUT---they have not rented before and had no idea there WAS a problem until it became serious enough to report. That's not their fault. 

    It's not YOUR fault either--you probably didn't realize you had a leak until the problem got bad enough to actually see and hear. Unfortunately, your insurance will not cover this either--it's your responsibility to have your plumbing inspected and repaired when there are issues, and it's not a condition caused by factors out of your control. You'll need to repair the plumbing, fix the tub and floor and the subfloor, have the unit inspected and beat these costs on your own--that's the way ownership works. It's also the way being a landlord who is fair works. The tenants have not damaged your place, the water leak has. And they didn't cause that. But when you own  a home or building, this is one of those things that becomes your sole responsibility. Suck it up and pay the repairs--and don't charge your tenants. 

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  • 3 weeks ago

    You are well on your way to being a slumlord...

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  • 3 weeks ago

    If there is any doubt whether this charge should be bourne by the landlord or the tenant, you can pretty much assume the judge will tell you, the landlord, to pay for it.  Furthermore you haven't proven at all that this was their fault. Maybe they should've known about it but ignoring minor mold and water damage is nothing new. I suggest you pay for it and call it a day. That's probably what a court would decide anyhow.

    If you firmly believe they knew about it and they admit to that themselves then maybe you could get them to pay for it, or split the cost if that's better, but thats the only way.

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  • 3 weeks ago

    This isn't your tenant's fault and you can't charge them a dime except maybe a cleaning fee.

    They notified you as soon as they realized there was a problem. It wasn't their job to go looking for problems - you could have done routine inspections and you either missed the issue or didn't conduct the inspections. 

    They didn't crack the tub. It cracked because the structure under it (the floor) rotted away and finally reached the point that it was too weak to support the tub and a person. This allowed the tub to sag and since bathtubs don't bend it cracked.

    They didn't cause the floor to rot away. Something was allowing water to get behind the wall and/or under the floor to cause the rot and mold. That could have been cracks in the caulking or floor that allowed moisture to seep in.

    Bottom line is that this is not the tenant's responsibility. If you withhold their deposit they'll sue you and win. If you sue them for additional damages you will lose AND likely end up owing their legal fees.

    Call your insurance to see if they'll cover it. If not, then get out the checkbook.

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  • 3 weeks ago

    Blaming tenants for a condition behind a wall huh??  I almost always side with landlords on this website...having trouble siding with you on this issue.  

    For instance, lets say this was caused by a slow leak in the shower.  Over time, the water caused some damage/rot to the surrounding structure.  Eventually, with enough deterioration, it could cause an issue...i.e. the pop you both heard was likely floorboards or something else breaking.  Tell me how the tenants would have been responsible for a slow leak into an enclosed and inaccessible space...or the subsequent damage?  

    Whether your insurance carrier will pay is another issue as well. 

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  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago

    Have you called in a plumber to get an assessment of what has caused the problem?

    When was the last time you did a routine inspection of the property that you are responsible for maintaining?

    Before you jump to the conclusion that this is 100% the tenant's fault and 0% your fault, gather the necessary information.   

    Any landlord who is renting an apartment to someone who is living away from their parents for the first time ought to know that the tenant has NEVER been responsible for maintaining a home and may not recognize a serious but disguised maintenance issue like a water problem behind a wall, under a floor, etc.   They also may have been trying not to be a pain about an issue they thought was a small one.  They may not have been aware of ANYTHING until they heard the pop/crack and immediately called you.

    This is why you do routine inspections from time to time.   The buck stops with you.

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  • 3 weeks ago

    Actually it sounds like wear and tear that wasn't directly attributed to this tenant, it's something that takes time. Your homeowners insurance should cover it.

    If there is no window there, the mold/water issue would be from a dripping pipe inside the walls, not the tenant's use of the bathroom. If there IS a window there, the sill and woodwork would be showing water damage (mine did) which would be very noticeable. Generally a curtain protects the window to avoid water going down into the wall there.

    Tub porcelain is pretty strong, but a tub can have weaknesses too. Unless your tenant is over 400 pounds, the tub itself should be able to handle the weight of one to two people. How old is the tub? How old is the building?

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  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago

    Mildew happens especially in the bathrooms and is easy to clean with bleach, it happens to everyone no matter how much you clean. Especially in winter months.  Mold isn’t black, it is green. If it is in the walls that would be because of a water leak in a pipe 99% of the time. A small thing in the pipe can be there for years and no one knows until it shows. Even the best can miss it. Get a plumber to check for it before doing anything else. 

    You can NOT charge them for this. Been there for over 3 years with you. This is standard wear and tear. Unless you can prove they did it on purpose. That is part of being an owner. 

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  • y
    Lv 7
    3 weeks ago

    Normal wear and tear, it happens and it isn't their fault, nor issue.

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