Tenant responsible for damage due to negligence

6 Replies

I have a tenant that has had some water damage due to a leaky roof, and at this point the damage is quite extensive. The tenant has been in there for eight months, and I have owned the unit for six months. They said that the drywall was saturated and crumbling in an 8x12 area, and the repair man said the leak has been going on for a while, possibly before they even moved in, but I didn't notice it when I bought it. I'm going to replace the roof, which is my responsibility. But the question is the extensive damage that's done to the inside, that 8 x 12 area needs new drywall, studs, and rafter sill plate.

The lease states that they are responsible for this, but strategy wise, I think I would just push the tenants away. They would leave, I would never be able to get the money, and I would be without rent for a few months. These are very low income tenants. I should be able to keep their security deposits.

Do y'all have any examples where y'all made tenants pay for damages, and it was for the best, or worst?

DId they report it when they noticed it?  Obviously it is possible they didn't see it right away since you didn't notice it when you purchased the home.

In my opinion, they didn't cause the roof leak so they should not be liable.  If they didn't report it and the damage became worse, i guess they could be responsible for that, but you would have to prove that they knew about it for a while before reporting. May not be worth the trouble, since they are super low income anyway and you probably wont get the money. 

Did you have the home inspected when you bought it?  It the leak was present when you bought it, I would not hold the tenants responsible for damage caused by the leak.

I would say its your house, your roof you are respondsible. You also didnt notice it in 8 months. This kind of water damage is not easily noticed in the beginning and there is no telling how the damage progressed. Now if it was a faucet leaking and they just let it go forever or they overflow the appliance that might have been an issue I would hold them accountable for

I do not understand why you are blaming the tenants for a leaky roof. Unless the tenants got on the roof and damaged it, which I highly doubt, it seems to me that a roof is the landlord’s responsibility. I would suggest getting it fixed ASAP.

I agree with the others.  This is your responsibility as the landlord to fix, not the tenants.  For what it's worth, I had a similar issue where a slow roof leak allowed water to accumulate in the attic and - when the saturated insulation got heavy enough - a section of the ceiling caved in.  Aside from the cost of the new roof I had to put on, the ceiling repair was fairly inexpensive.  Mostly labor and I did that part of the repair.  Here's a couple before and after pics:


I find it interesting that you didn't find any evidence of a leak when you bought the place. Did you have a home inspection? There should have been evidence of the leak in the attic space.

Unless you can prove the tenants saw the damage taking place and failed to report it, I don't think you have a case.

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