Burst Pipes - Liability Question

6 Replies

Disclaimer: I understand there are quite a few threads on "bursting pipe liability" on this site. However, they all seem to have a few different scenarios or circumstances that are situationally unique. Lastly, a friend asked me to post on here because I've told her what valuable knowledge and insight exists on this site, her name is Anna. 

Earlier this month, a pipe burst while Anna was at work. The result of the pipe bursting was due to how poorly insulated the house is. (As stated by the responding plumber) The thermostat was kept at 70 degrees as it always is when Anna leaves. They have a smart thermostat and are able to prove same. It is likely going to be determined that the tenant is not at fault for this incident. The owners of the property are trying to get Anna to file a claim with her renter's insurance for this incident. The properties basement and entire kitchen area are currently inhabitable due to the water damage, she cannot access same. 

My question is this, 

  1. what EXACTLY does renters insurance cover and when in this situation should a claim be filed with Annas policy? 
  2. If a landlord is offering to give a discount on the monthly rent due to the property being partially uninhabitable for 3 weeks, should that be a renters insurance claim to annas policy, or theirs?

Lastly, this property is just outside of Baltimore MD. 


renters insurance typically covers your personal property, not the building. 

@Eric G.
As noted renters insurance would cover her lost property and I believe it should cover temporary housing.

Make sure the homeowners are not trying to blame her for the pipe burst though

Originally posted by @Chris Seveney :

Eric G.
As noted renters insurance would cover her lost property and I believe it should cover temporary housing.

Make sure the homeowners are not trying to blame her for the pipe burst though

 Chris, thanks for the response. As of right now, I believe they are agreeing to give her 50% off the month for rent. Only her bedroom is habitable right now. They are stating that she should file a claim with her renter's insurance to recoup 50% of the monthly rent. It's unclear if they are trying to blame her for the pipe right now.

If they did modify the rent for the month, who should incur that cost. The landlords, or Annas renter insurance?

@Eric G.

If she stays and accepts the discounted rent then she should have to pay the balance. If the house is not habitable then she should say thank you but the house is not habitable and I will find alternate housing till house repairs are complete. She would then not be responsible for any costs and insurance would cover temp housing. If they argue habitability then have a city official inspect and provide their opinion.

A residential tenant is rarely responsible for damages to structural or systems except for cases gross negligence by the tenant, nor will the common renters insurance pay for those damages. 

From a code enforcement perspective if the kitchen and/or other essential portions of the property are truly uninhabitable then the property is condemnable by the authority having jurisdiction. 

Depending on the level the damage rises to the property may well be un-occupiable until repaired. 

The 50% reduction while admirable it most certainly won't cut it in that region of the country given the tenant centric laws and authorities in Maryland, especially those in Baltimore City & Baltimore County. 

Good luck. 

Nobody here can answer the question to your questions.  The only entity that can provide an answer is Anna's insurance company.

I have three rentals.  Two of the three rentals have coverage in case a pipe bursts (the third is ineligible for this protection per the insurance company).  Even if a pipe bursts at the other two, there are certain conditions that must be met.

Prior to the insurance coverage I outlined that I had above, I had policies via American Modern through Allstate.  When I had coverage for the three properties via an American Modern policy, none of the properties were covered for pipes bursting or water damage.

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