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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 117375
Experience:  Attorney with over 24 years experience.
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I am a tenant that was just given a bill (about $1,700)

Customer Question

Good afternoon,
I am a tenant that was just given a bill (about $1,700) for costs related to repairing elevator damages in my apartment building. The damages were allegedly caused by two of my friends early one Sunday morning. However, I was asleep at this time and did not let them in the building. They called the emergency lock out number and an employee came to let them in my apartment (which I was asleep in at the time). I woke up told the employee that I did indeed know them but failed to pay him the lock out fee of $50 because none of us had enough cash on us. I offered to go to the ATM right outside the building and get the cash for him but he refused that offer. Not knowing what to do at this point I yelled at him to leave and said I would pay the fee at a later point. He was standing in the hallway so I shut my door and we went to sleep. The notice from the Landlord's attorneys basically says that they (my friends) kicked and rammed the elevator door while the empl
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, as a tenant you are liable for the conduct of your guests, whether you were asleep or not. If the landlord is charging you for the damages, then you have a right to sue your friends for them reimbursing you for the damage they caused that your landlord made you pay for. So, because the landlord has a lease contract with you, he is going after you and you would have a right to sue your friends as liable third parties to make your friends liable to pay you for the damage they caused.
So you have recourse and you would need to start, since the landlord has not sued you yet, by sending the landlord's attorney a letter identifying your friends by name and address and telling the attorney that as they were uninvited guests and caused damages because you refused to let them into your apartment, they are liable and that if the landlord continues to pursue you, then you will file a third party claim. However, the landlord can hold you jointly and severally liable with your guests I am afraid and could sue you and force you to be the one to bring in the friends to the suit by filing your third party claim.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I wouldn't be interested in suing my friends if it came to having to pay the bill. However, they are adamant that this never occurred and I am inclined to believe them. Is there any way to check to see if emergency services were called due to the elevator being stuck? It wouldn't surprise me if the employee lied about the kicking of the elevator by my friends just because we were a bit verbally abusive to him when he was seeking the lockout fee from us. I used both elevators the following morning (late Sunday morning) and they were working fine.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Unfortunately, your choices are limited. If the landlord pursues you, then you either have to eat the bill, fight the landlord in court with your friends having to testify as witnesses or sue your friends. Those are the options you would have.
If you used both elevators the next morning, it is unlikely they fixed the damages that fast, so you need to write that in your letter to the landlord's attorney.
As far as if emergency services were called, you would have to ask the attorney for that information, unless you know the elevator service company and call them and check with them directly to see if they were called on that date and time (they do not have to tell you but most times they will). If the attorney will not tell you and the elevator company will not tell you, the only way to get that information is once suit is filed by getting a subpoena for the records and serving the elevator company.

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