How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask MIAMILAW1127 Your Own Question
MIAMILAW1127, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 755
Experience:  Founding Partner at Moises Law, P.A.
Type Your Landlord-Tenant Question Here...
MIAMILAW1127 is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My sister, has been renting a house in North Carolina past 4

Customer Question

My sister, Kelly has been renting a house in North Carolina for the past 4 months. Last Friday she saw water coming up from around the base of her toilet and up into her bathtub. She cleaned it up and immediately called the leasing agent and told them there must be a leak or clog somewhere. They hired a contractor to go to her house to see where the leak was coming from.
Long story short the leak was a break in the sewer line, not the line on the property, but the line for the city. The city will be fixing the sewer break, however the leasing agent sent my sister a bill for $3,000 for the damage that the plumber did to the house. The plumber came and saw that there was no leak or break in the house, but said there was water under the carpet and linoleum. He had an infrared moisture reader. My sister cleaned up all the water, but yes the carpet was still damp, not wet. There was no water under the linoleum either. She was their while the plumber and his crew were ripping up carpet and hauling it out and cutting up linoleum and baseboards. She said there was no water anywhere except for the carpet being damp.
They are holding Kelly responsible for the break, claiming it burst due to tampons and baby wipes. She has lived there only 4 months, she has no baby, and she uses flush able tampons. However, even non flush able tampons would not cause a break in a mere 4 months, probably not even a clog. However, it's highly likely that the pipe was already clogged prior to Kelly even moving into the house. They said she has to pay for the plumber, newcarpet, new linoleum and the labor to do it ($3k). They want her to set up a payment plan immediately and send them a letter because she is disputing her responsibility in it. What should she do?
Her lease states this in regards ***** *****:
"Tenants shall be responsible for all damages, defacement or removal of any property inside the dwelling unit in the tenants exclusive control unless the damage, defacement or removal was due to ordinary ware and tear, acts of the landlord, or the landlords agent, defective products supplied or repairs authorized by the landlord, acts of 3rd parties, not invitees of the tenant, or natural forces. Tenants agree to pay the landlord for the cost of repairing any damage for which tenant is responsible upon receipt of landlords demand therefore, and to pay the rent during the period the premises may not be habitable as a result of any such damage. Such damage may include but is not limited to: ***** ***** or screens, filthy ovens, refrigerators, kitchen floors, cabinets, bathrooms, drink stains on the carpet, and unauthorized paint colors.
The plumber was hired by the landlord, they approved what he did, Kelly did not. Again she's lived there for 4 months and could not be her fault. Can they hold her responsible and make her pay the $3k for the plumber and the damages he did to their property?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  MIAMILAW1127 replied 1 year ago.

Hello. Thank you for contacting me. I am a consultant here and I am looking forward to assisting you with your question. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Please be patient as I will be typing my responses to you from scratch. Also, I can only answer/address the questions you ask specifically based on the information your provide. Please try to provide as much information as possible so I can best assist you.

Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

They can try to hold her responsible, but it does not seem she is responsible here based on the facts that your are giving and language you have provided. Of course, that's not going to stop the landlord from trying to bully his way into making her pay for the damages.

I hope this helps. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What should she do?
Expert:  MIAMILAW1127 replied 1 year ago.

That's the issue.

If she get's an attorney to help her fight the case, it could potentially cost her more than the $3,000 the landlord is seeking.

She should stick to her guns and tell the landlord she isn't paying it because she isn't responsible (if she truly believes she is not). The landlord will likely get upset, try to terminate the lease asserting that she is in breach, and eventually try to evict her. This will all end up in court and the decision would be up to a judge.

That being said, it is a roll of the dice. Your sister would be taking a gamble if she decided not to pay the $3k (even though I personally don't think she should because I don't see how, based off what you're saying, it's her fault).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
she continue to stand her ground and if they evict her just let a judge decide? Her lease states of she doesn't pay any monies demanded by hmthe landlord for any damages they will evict her. She is an educated single mother who works in higher education and is battling cancer, she pays all her bills but cannot afford this.
Expert:  MIAMILAW1127 replied 1 year ago.

That's pretty much her only other option.