My tenant's children caused a sewer flood by throwing toys etc down the toilets and shower drain,they're on a basement sump pump. Their mother took the drain cover off which exposed the opening. She didn't tell me about the flood for a few days and the whole house smelled like an out house I cleaned up the mess and shampooed a couple of times. The sewage liquid ran into the office area that had brand new carpet. I'm wondering if I could be in trouble for just shampooing it & not replacing the carpet immediately since I didn't have the money. She's been here a year and I've been asking for her security deposit since she moved in. Last month she finally paid me 1/2. can I use that money now if I have to buy carpet, pad, and Installation or is it OK to wait until she moves out in December.
You cannot use the security deposit while the tenant is still in possession. If the tenant has not paid the full deposit, you can give her a 10 day notice to comply or vacate that requires her to pay it.
The tenants are responsible for any damage they cause to the premises. You can give them a ten day notice requiring them to repair any damage they caused or terminate their tenancy if the lease has expired, do the repair yourself, and charge them for the cost. I do not recommend repairing tenant-caused damage while they occupy the unit because of the risk they will just damage it again.
With respect to your concern about liability, you are not responsible for damage caused by the tenant. Unless you know about a health risk and conceal it from her, if she caused it, she cannot look to you for damage if she is harmed by her own misconduct. This is what her renter's insurance is for.
Review your lease to find out what it says. Generally damage caused by the tenant is to be paid for by the tenant. Generally you are not to touch the security deposit until they have moved out and you have documented the damage. You will probably need to invoice the tenant and cite to the lease showing where the damage provision is.
It may cost some money but I will say it would be better to fix the carpet than to have to deal with a claim for medical bills later if the tenant gets sick and claims that you should have remedied the condition.
That's the general story. You should review this with your lease at your local attorney's office in order to get a specific answer.
For informational purposes only. This does NOT create any attorney client relationship. This opinion is given in relation to the general question you have provided. Specific facts of your case may change the opinion given above and you should seek an attorney to discuss you're matter in more depth.
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