Who should pay for a toilet leak, landlord or tenant?

Yolanda asks:
(updated on Wednesday, December 17th 2008)

My tenant had a toilet leak due to toilet stoppage (according to the plumbing co) causing extensive damage to the condo below in the amount of $1,930.00. My tenant claims he didn't find out about the leaking until he got a call from the HOA. I was notified of the incident 15 days after it happened and paid $250.00 plumbing repair. Also, tenant had previously given 30 days moving notice and he wants $1500.00 security deposit back. I have no Ins. Coverage to cover neighbor's damages. Can I deduct damages from security deposit due to tenant's negligence?

Our Experts Answer:

Tenants are liable for damage they or their invited guests cause carelessly or intentionally. They are also obliged to tell the landlord about any necessary maintenance, so that the landlord can arrange for repairs. If the tenant was aware of the leak and did not notify you of the problem, they may be responsible for any further damage the leak caused. However if there was no noticeable sign of the leak and the tenant notified you as soon as they were aware of the problem, then it may be a maintenance issue which would be the landlord’s responsibility. If you and your tenant can’t agree on who will pay the cost of the damage, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter. To discuss your situation further, or for advice and information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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