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Christopher B, Esq.
Christopher B, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2982
Experience:  associate attorney
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I rent a home in San Diego, CA. Last month we had a water

Customer Question

Hi,
I rent a home in San Diego, CA. Last month we had a water heater rupture that caused a large spillage of water which then caused our water bill to go up 300%. Our landlord's name is ***** ***** water bill but in our lease it states that we pay him for monthly water usage. Due to the large bill, we requested landlords help in paying the bill (we would pay what our water bill was last month, plus $50. The request was denied because the landlord said that in our lease, it states that all appliances are our responsibility and because water is not covered by our rent. Is he being fair in denying us help on the bill?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

My name is ***** ***** I will be helping you today. Thank you for your question and for using justanswer.com.

He is probably right about the water not being responsibility of the landlord but he is wrong in the sense that a water heater is normally not considered an "appliance" ( it part of the real estate under both real estate law and IRS law). I assume the landlord paid for the repair of the water heater (unless you as the tenant were responsible for the rupture) The tenant, however, must also act with diligence. This translates into both a duty to mitigate the damage and to act responsibly to notify someone to alleviate the damaging condition. If it is worth it to you to file a suit regarding this issue (it might sour your relationship with your landlord) you could have a leg to stand on as long as the broken water heater was not your direct responsibility and you could bring suit in small claims court. Water is your responsibility but negligence relating to the water heater that was not your responsibility. If you gave proper notice and sufficiently mitigated the problem (turning off the water main ASAP) then you would have a good chance to prevail in this case since the landlord did not sufficiently maintain the water heater.

See link for CA website on landlord repairs: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/repairs.shtml

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Customer: replied 9 months ago.
i am writing an email stating what you said above. I don't want to file suit, but I also don't want to get pinned with 500 dollars in water (normally nearly $150) that was caused by this water heater. I have photographic evidence of the water from the incident. How could I convey this to my landlord in the best manner? What would your advice be?
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

A letter (certified with return receipt) is usually best as that documents the conversation just in case you need it in the future. You should simply point out that a water heater is not considered an appliance and it is considered part of the real estate. Also you could point out that it was landlord's responsibility to fix it and that you gave reasonable notice of the defect. You could state that the water bill was increased because of the damage that he was responsible for and that you would expect that he pay for those damages as they are not your responsibility. Also understand that my advice is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney client relationship. This suit is to inform and this information is for that purpose only.

Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer if satisfied. There should be smiley faces or numbers from 1-5 to choose from. This extra step will cost you nothing extra and will be greatly appreciated. See link for how to rate: http://ww2.justanswer.com/help/how-do-i-rate-answer-hl

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I will not mention you as my attorney or legal council. But would you say If I filed suit, I would be likely to win? Damage to the water heater was repaired for free, I just want to pay my normal water bill.
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

There is a good chance you would prevail although Judges have very wide discretion. If the water heater was his responsibility and you reported it promptly and did everything you could to limit damages, it is very likely the landlord would be responsible because of his own negligence as it is for the water heater.

Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer if satisfied. There should be smiley faces or numbers from 1-5 to choose from. This extra step will cost you nothing extra and will be greatly appreciated. See link for how to rate: http://ww2.justanswer.com/help/how-do-i-rate-answer-hl

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

Was that the answer you were looking for? Please give me some feedback if not as I want to satisfy my customers. If you are satisfied, please rate my answer as this is the only way I will be compensated for my time by the site. See "rate an answer" on the following link for how to do so: http://ww2.justanswer.com/help/how-do-i-rate-answer-hl

Thank you in advance.

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

Just checking back in, do you have any further questions?

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

I never heard back from you for any follow up, and never got a rating to know if you are satisfied. Did my answer meet your needs or do you have any further questions?

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