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I am a renter can my landlord make me pay for water damage in the kitchen that's in the back of the cabinets? Possible slow leak

La Mesa, CA |

I had extensive water damage in the back of my kitchen cabinets and lower wall. It seems that there has been a leak in the kitchen for a while. I have lived in my house for four years and went to get something out a lower cabinet that I hardly use. I noticed black mildew and as I took out more of my kitchen items saw it was completely corroded and black and there was black in the back of the wall and a big dent in the middle of the cabinet that was caving in. The land lord had been out once before when I had low water pressure and fixed it and left it at that I called the landlord when I saw the damage and he said he would come the next day after work . He is saying I let the pipes leak and therefore it's my fault although everything directly under the sink was always dry. This true?

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Attorney answers 2


A tenant is required to fix or repair any item they damage as part of their duties as a tenant. The landlord is required to keep the premises in habitable condition. So, if the leak under the sink was caused by the tenant, then yes, the landlord could ask the tenant to pick up the cost of the repairs. You'll want to check your rental agreement carefully as most commercial agreements contain provisions which would prohibit a tenant from undertaking a plumbing repair (although not normally phrased in that fashion) You'll want to contact an attorney who is familiar with landlord tenant law (don't go to a law firm that does these occasionally) and get an opinion based upon all facts and a reading of your rental agreement.

A proper response would require a thorough investigation into the history and background of this relationship. The information provided above is just that, information, to be used as you see fit.



How could I have caused the leak? It was old plumbing that gave out conveniently when I rented the property. Doesn't seem very fair. I could understand if this was knowingly and purposely done on my behalf but I had no clue about the leak until its too late. Landlords can get insured for these types of things but renters do not have this option and have to pay the astronomical bill out of their own pockets and obviously renting and not owning should tell you that we're not in the position to be shelling out all that money. I have always been an honest person with a perfect rental and credit record and I feel that this might make my life change for the worse if I am unable to afford to pay.


It depends. As Mr. Fitch mentioned, if you caused the damage, then you are liable to repair it. If you didn't or the cause cannot be determined, then you must look to your rental contract. You should consult with a landlord tenant lawyer in your area for a thorough review of the facts and the rental agreement.

When responding to questions posted on Avvo, I provide a general purpose response based on California law as I am licensed in California. In reviewing my response, you are specifically advised that your use of, or reliance upon any response I provide is not advisable. I do not have all relevant background details or facts related to your issue / matter, thus I am not in a position to give you legal advice. Further, your review, use of, or reliance upon my response does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us nor does it qualify as a legal consultation for any purpose. For specific advice regarding your particular circumstances, you should consult and retain local counsel.

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