Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

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Splendid
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Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Splendid » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:32 am UTC

(I looked at all the forums and wasn't sure if this was important enough to fit into SB threads. Sorry if this is the wrong place.)

A few days ago maintenance came by after a faulty washer water valve, fixed it, and said, "Well you should secure that drain hose. It just popped out on me so don't run it until you get it secured."

Fast forward to four hours ago, I realize after about 45 minutes that the washer still sounds as though it's filling up. I had forgotten about the hose issue and it had popped out, spitting out all the water that went into the washer. The carpet is absolutely soaked, I shut off the washer and no sooner than I can grab every towel I can find, maintenance comes busting through my door asking if there is water running, saying the downstairs apartments are flooded.

I've spent the last few hours trying to soak up water from the carpets while the boss lady comes by to tell me, "Yep, sucks you don't have renters insurance. You're responsible for personal property damage and we'll have to do a bit of water removal. The ceiling below yours is just dripping with water."

I'm guessing for the amount of time I didn't realize it, I'd estimate about 50 gallons leaked out, I'm not too sure. She said all four apartments below mine in the building have water going into them. There is currently a carpet cleaning van outside cleaning everything up downstairs. I'm sure a 10pm call isn't going to come cheap.

My question: What do I do for my neighbors, other than pay whatever it is they tell me I have to pay for (I don't have a full time job and only about 2k in the bank)? Do I go down right now as they are cleaning and apologize? Do I get them some sort of gift card for gas or Walmart or something as if that makes it all better? Do I wait a day to try to talk to them? I literally moved in here not even two weeks ago, and I'm losing it here. Thanks everyone.

EDIT: [Update] See post 15.
Last edited by Splendid on Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:28 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby inexplicable » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:56 am UTC

Hmm... If the repair guy is in any way related with your apartment building, I'd suggest getting a lawyer and trying to figure it out that way. I mean, if he noticed a problem but didn't do anything about it, then he's the one to blame.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby CHR1110 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:10 am UTC

inexplicable wrote:Hmm... If the repair guy is in any way related with your apartment building, I'd suggest getting a lawyer and trying to figure it out that way. I mean, if he noticed a problem but didn't do anything about it, then he's the one to blame.


I have to agree. "Secure the drain hose"? And exactly how are you supposed to do that?

As for your neighbors...if they have any shred of decency, they'll listen to your side of the story and be at least a little compassionate.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby poxic » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:48 am UTC

CHR1110 wrote:I have to agree. "Secure the drain hose"? And exactly how are you supposed to do that?

You tie the drain hose to the connection area, or duct tape it in place, or do whatever you need to do to make sure it doesn't pop out. It's a hose with one end in the washing machine and the other one in the external drain (usually in the wall above and behind the machine). It's not rocket surgery.

I doubt there's a case against the repairman. Say CHR1110 takes his car in to get the windshield replaced and the mechanic says "you should get new windshield wipers". There's no case against the mechanic if CHR1110 forgot to do that and end up rear-ending someone because the windshield wipers sucked (as the mechanic said they would).

As to the main point, I would go down and apologise. Maybe take a bottle of wine to each place and apologise in person. You don't necessarily have to tell the whole story, just "The washing machine hose came loose. I probably should have taped it in place" is mostly the truth and will turn away the worst of the wrath. (If they get wrathful, suck it up and take it. You'll be away from them in a few minutes. :wink: )
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby lulzfish » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:56 am UTC

Yeah, you should probably apologize as soon as possible. Waiting just makes it more awkward, and they'll start to think bad things. If you explain the situation right away and apologize, they'll be sure to know it's a mistake.

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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby El Senor Fruit Swing » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:03 am UTC

CHR1110 wrote:
I have to agree. "Secure the drain hose"? And exactly how are you supposed to do that?

Isn't that what maintance is spose to do? Secure things and fix issues? If I'm shelling out X amount of dollars a month.. i'd expect the landlord lady to have her ducks ina row and hire a staff who does things instead of telling you to do it your self.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:05 am UTC

Ouch. You could take your case to small claims court, filed under, I dunno, general accident? I mean, you had no way of knowing that the repair man saying 'secure that hose' meant 'I didn't do shit to the washing machine and if you turn it on all hell will break loose'. If my stove is broken, and I have someone come repair it, and they say, "Hmm, that's funny, the nozzle isn't 100%" and my apartment explodes, I blame the repair guy.
I guess it depends strongly on the building; a dumpier place is going to be less likely to do back you, a nicer dig may side with your plight.
Still... Sucks. I would absolutely goto the other tenants and apologize, profusely, for the inconvenience, but were I in your shoes, I wouldn't exactly feel responsible for what happened.
tl;dr: Maintenance should have fixed it, or told you explicitly that if you didn't do *this* (and show you how to do it!) that flooding would result.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby lulzfish » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:08 am UTC

Splendid wrote:A few days ago maintenance came by after a faulty washer water valve, fixed it, and said, "Well you should secure that drain hose. It just popped out on me so don't run it until you get it secured."

So the maintenance guy fixed most of it and then left a simple task for him, which he forgot to do purely by accident.
I don't think he has a case, but it's weird of the maintenance guy to not just secure it for you. Maybe he was saving his duct tape for another customer.

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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby El Senor Fruit Swing » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:18 am UTC

I'm pretty sure the maintaince guy got paid to fix the issue... clearly he didn't fix itt.. he jus passed on what to do,

Its kinda like going to a barber and paying 15 bucks to have them tell you, ya need scissors to cut your hair. Then sending you on your way.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby CHR1110 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:52 am UTC

poxic wrote:
CHR1110 wrote:I have to agree. "Secure the drain hose"? And exactly how are you supposed to do that?

You tie the drain hose to the connection area, or duct tape it in place, or do whatever you need to do to make sure it doesn't pop out. It's a hose with one end in the washing machine and the other one in the external drain (usually in the wall above and behind the machine). It's not rocket surgery.

I doubt there's a case against the repairman. Say CHR1110 takes his car in to get the windshield replaced and the mechanic says "you should get new windshield wipers". There's no case against the mechanic if CHR1110 forgot to do that and end up rear-ending someone because the windshield wipers sucked (as the mechanic said they would).

As to the main point, I would go down and apologise. Maybe take a bottle of wine to each place and apologise in person. You don't necessarily have to tell the whole story, just "The washing machine hose came loose. I probably should have taped it in place" is mostly the truth and will turn away the worst of the wrath. (If they get wrathful, suck it up and take it. You'll be away from them in a few minutes. :wink: )


I was being sarcastic, but I guess it didn't come through...

Point is, the maintenance man should have fixed it, not told the person that is paying for the maintenance man to be there to fix it.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby SurgicalSteel » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:43 am UTC

Splendid wrote:A few days ago maintenance came by after a faulty washer water valve, fixed it, and said, "Well you should secure that drain hose. It just popped out on me so don't run it until you get it secured."
He fixed what he was there to fix. Whether he has a case or not largely depends on where he lives and what is in the lease. Some areas make keeping the apartment habitable the responsibility of the land-lord, but also don't include functioning washer and dryers as part of the minimum requirements of habitability. Check the lease and local laws. Although it may come out as negligence on your part. If you knock over a lamp and start a fire, you'd probably still have to pay for the damage.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby Fossa » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:19 am UTC

SurgicalSteel wrote:
Splendid wrote:A few days ago maintenance came by after a faulty washer water valve, fixed it, and said, "Well you should secure that drain hose. It just popped out on me so don't run it until you get it secured."
He fixed what he was there to fix. Whether he has a case or not largely depends on where he lives and what is in the lease. Some areas make keeping the apartment habitable the responsibility of the land-lord, but also don't include functioning washer and dryers as part of the minimum requirements of habitability. Check the lease and local laws. Although it may come out as negligence on your part. If you knock over a lamp and start a fire, you'd probably still have to pay for the damage.


The first part of this. I would be very surprised if you're liable for a problem caused by the equipment provided to you by your landlord.

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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby Splendid » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:44 pm UTC

Thanks for your replies everyone, it hasn't been a wonderful evening, and waking up today remembering that I have to deal with this wasn't great either.

To answer some questions, the washer/dryer is optional here. They have a laundromat, but we opted to buy a washer and dryer to hook up in our place. Though I'd never put it together that he was shifting responsibility to me. I mean I can kind of see the "he skipped out on his job" part, but I can also see the "we have a laundromat, dude" side of it too.

I did apologize last night to two of them (the other two were apparently asleep so they were only cleaning the two below me). The man down and next to us seemed kind and understanding, saying you aren't the first person this has happened to, but qualified it by saying I need to fix the problem now because if this happens again you may have some people banging down your door.
The (upper 20s?) man below me was less than kind, introducing himself with "I wondered when you were going to come apologize." Although as poxic recommended, I let him be passive-aggressive because, well, I sort of flooded his place. He did tell me he moved his computer away from the wall (directly below me) and turned his computer on and it worked, which was the main concern.

I wrote everything down right before bed that I could remember happening as it happened, along with conversations, in case he flakes out and says "Nope. My computer never worked." Don't know if that matters at all, but so far, it seems to be only the carpets soaked. I meet with the landlord today after work. Thanks everyone.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:57 pm UTC

Splendid wrote:Thanks for your replies everyone, it hasn't been a wonderful evening, and waking up today remembering that I have to deal with this wasn't great either.

To answer some questions, the washer/dryer is optional here. They have a laundromat, but we opted to buy a washer and dryer to hook up in our place. Though I'd never put it together that he was shifting responsibility to me. I mean I can kind of see the "he skipped out on his job" part, but I can also see the "we have a laundromat, dude" side of it too.


So the washer/dryer are NOT property of the landlord? That makes more sense as to why maintenance wouldn't fix it but they would fix a water valve (that is ostensibly part of the apartment).

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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby Splendid » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:27 pm UTC

UPDATE:

Well they said they'd get back to me on a final tally of the damage. But here's my question now: who should pay, and what percentage between my roommate and I?

Some facts: We split the cost of the washer and dryer and when we part ways in a year or two I'll be taking them with me and probably slipping him the current value of his half. That's the only thing in the place we divided this way; the rest is his/mine stuff. However he plans on using the W/D just as often as me. Problem is he's always had mommy do laundry for him, which is part of the reason I think he hasn't done his own laundry here yet. He's also (IMO) a bit too lax when it comes to clean clothes. He was also sitting right there when maintenance said we had to fix the hose the first time, but made no effort to do so. I don't recall if I had said I would secure the hose or not, but he has zero mechanical abilities, so most of that type of stuff has always fallen on me.

He said outright he doesn't think he should have to pay for any of the damages (water removal, etc) because it was my fault. I said that it probably was my fault since I was here alone at the time and didn't notice the washer making a huge mess until it was way, way too late. I had told him only four days prior to this to go get renter's insurance, but was "waiting for his next bill to arrive before he called them".

TL;DR: Roomie and I both use/paid for the washer/dryer, he wasn't home at the time of the mess, I happened to be the first one to need the washer for its first use, says I should have to pay for all the damages myself.
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Re: Need advice: Just flooded four downstairs apartments.

Postby rigwarl » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:39 pm UTC

Unless there was something about the insurance that I didn't understand (he should have gotten it for both of you by the time of the accident?), it seems reasonable that he doesn't think he should pay at all.

Do you have a rough estimate of damage costs btw?

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Splendid » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

The insurance was just suggested to him by me since we had recently moved and knew we may need it. And we did. There is no estimate yet. The landlord said mostly water removal and one sheet of drywall, and a hotel bill of one of the tenants who decided a night out would be best for their child but would get back to me in about a week on a final bill.
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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Enuja » Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:59 pm UTC

You and your roommate are sharing the apartment, share the rent, planned to share renter's insurance and planned to share the washing machine. You feel guilty, so you are inappropriately taking financial risk that should be shared. You and your roommate should share the financial costs of the flooding. The installation of repair of the washing machine was both your responsibilities, not just yours.

On the other hand, I can't seem to convince my spouse of the importance of sealing the shower curtain closed while he's taking a shower (he just pushes it closed, and doesn't get the wall wet and stick the curtain to it), and if that ends up damaging our wall, floor, or the apartment below us ... I'm gonna make him pay. So I certainly understand your roommate not wanting to pay half. Maybe it will be easier to convince him to pay 40% instead of 50%?

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Chen » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:49 pm UTC

Unless someone specifically said they were going to fix the washer and didn't, the fault lies with whoever turned on the washer without it being fixed. I mean if I leave something on the stove and burn down the apartment, I don't see why someone else who lives there would need to help pay for it (unless they said they would check the stove or something). The responsibility of FIXING the washer falls on both people who were going to use it. But using something that wasn't fixed was solely your fault, so I'd say you should be the one doing the paying.

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Enuja » Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:07 pm UTC

But if the roommates don't know that there is anything wrong with the stove, someone says "hey, there's something you need to fiddle with on this stove", neither of the roommates do anything about it or consider doing anything about it, and three days later someone finally uses the stove, the fault is squarely on both people. There was not-done maintenance of the type that neither roommate expected to have to do, or came up with any mechanism to do, and the OP at least appears to have completely forgotten that anything was supposed to be wrong.

Would a note "broken washer: do not use" have been a really good move? Yes, but both roommates could have done that, and neither did. If the OP moved a note and deliberately decided to use the washer anyway, then it should be all his fault. But he just forgot about it, because there isn't a system between the roommates to take care of stuff like this.

I still don't know who installed the washer: if the OP did it emself while the roommate had objected and wanted to hire someone to do it, then I think the OP should pay the whole cost. If parents or friends or the seller of the washer or the OP because the roommate couldn't be bothered to worry about it installed the washer, then I think that the roommates should split the cost. Shit happens, and the people responsible for setting up shit (both roommates by deciding to buy the washer) are equally responsible for paying for the consequences. What I understand from the OP is that the roommate expects the OP to set up and do minor maintenance, and now wants the OP to pay for a lack of maintenance. It shouldn't work like that. If you refuse to participate in or find and pay someone else to do maintenance, then you're at least half responsible for the outcome. Refusing to take shared responsibility for something that is your shared responsibility should not excuse you from later liability.

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Chen » Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:22 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:But if the roommates don't know that there is anything wrong with the stove, someone says "hey, there's something you need to fiddle with on this stove", neither of the roommates do anything about it or consider doing anything about it, and three days later someone finally uses the stove, the fault is squarely on both people. There was not-done maintenance of the type that neither roommate expected to have to do, or came up with any mechanism to do, and the OP at least appears to have completely forgotten that anything was supposed to be wrong.


That is absurd logic. Unless the person using the stove didn't know there was something wrong with it (in which case I agree the fault would be on those who didn't repair it and didn't inform the person), the fault lies entirely with the person using the known defective device. Unless there was an expectation that the device was fixed and no longer defective, the fault cannot lie with anyone else. Its even more clear cut in this case. The OP said that HE would most likely be the one who had to fix it. There was no expectation at all that the roommate was going to fix it. He then proceeded to use the defective washer with bad consequences as a result of his own forgetfulness. The roommate is not at fault in any way.

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby rigwarl » Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:32 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:What I understand from the OP is that the roommate expects the OP to set up and do minor maintenance, and now wants the OP to pay for a lack of maintenance.

I don't think that's really the same as this case. If the roommate were the one to activate the washer first and cause the flooding and blamed the OP because he was supposed to fix it by then, then I think your statement would apply and the roommate would definitely be at fault.

The OP made a mistake that was avoidable which his roommate had no part in at all. This is different than say, if you move in and happen to be the first to open the closet door and it falls off its shoddy hinges.

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Enuja » Fri Feb 26, 2010 7:30 pm UTC

My understanding of the situation:
Maintenance guy says a lot of things, including throwing out "this hose should be secured before you use the washer".
Both roommates look blankly on, and do not discuss the future of the washer.
The OP uses it first because the roommate would rather eir mother do eir laundry.

In hindsight, it is absolutely obvious that the OP should have secured the hose before turning on the washer. In the actual events, unrolling as they happened without knowledge of future events, I consider both roommates responsible. They apparently did not discuss the status of the washer or plan together what should be done with the washer. They got a warning, which sticks out in hindsight, but may or may not have had any impact at the time. If the warning did lead to discussion a like "Hey, when are we going to fix that: we need to make sure we don't use the washer before we fix it", then the OP's should pay the full cost of repair. But, from my reading of the situation, there was no discussion between the OP and the roommate (who were both in the room when the maintenance guy made the now-obvious remark) about future use of the washer. Therefore, it wasn't a "known fact" that they couldn't use the washer.

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Cloud Walker » Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:04 am UTC

Sucks this happened, man.

You shoulda secured the hose right after the mechanic paid his visit. That didn't happen, so I would have gone to my neighbors and apologized immediately and profusely. The water ruined their night, and it's easy to hate you when they don't have a face or a personality or remorse to accompany it. See: internet.
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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Chen » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:11 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:My understanding of the situation:
Maintenance guy says a lot of things, including throwing out "this hose should be secured before you use the washer".
Both roommates look blankly on, and do not discuss the future of the washer.
The OP uses it first because the roommate would rather eir mother do eir laundry.


Concur, though why the roommate didn't use the washer is irrelevant.

In hindsight, it is absolutely obvious that the OP should have secured the hose before turning on the washer. In the actual events, unrolling as they happened without knowledge of future events, I consider both roommates responsible. They apparently did not discuss the status of the washer or plan together what should be done with the washer. They got a warning, which sticks out in hindsight, but may or may not have had any impact at the time. If the warning did lead to discussion a like "Hey, when are we going to fix that: we need to make sure we don't use the washer before we fix it", then the OP's should pay the full cost of repair. But, from my reading of the situation, there was no discussion between the OP and the roommate (who were both in the room when the maintenance guy made the now-obvious remark) about future use of the washer. Therefore, it wasn't a "known fact" that they couldn't use the washer.


What action was it on the roommates part then that results in their partial responsibility here then? Not fixing the washer? Not reminding the OP not to use the washer? To me it seems the direct cause of the problem was using the faulty machine and forgetting it was faulty. It doesn't seem like the roommate's actions played a part in this at all.

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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:15 pm UTC

Chen wrote:It doesn't seem like the roommate's actions played a part in this at all.

I would say the roommate putting off getting the renters insurance indites him to some degree. Just as it was the OPs responsibility to secure that hose, or to not use the washing machine until the hose was secured, if the two of them agreed that they would get renters insurance and the roommate agreed that he would do the necessary paperwork to get it done, and didn't...

It's just muddied by the fact that of course now the roommate is more adamant than he was before about originally not wanting the washer in unit.
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Re: Need advice: [Update] Roommate responsibility in flooding?

Postby Chen » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:26 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I would say the roommate putting off getting the renters insurance indites him to some degree. Just as it was the OPs responsibility to secure that hose, or to not use the washing machine until the hose was secured, if the two of them agreed that they would get renters insurance and the roommate agreed that he would do the necessary paperwork to get it done, and didn't...


I didn't understand it as such, but yes I suppose if there was an agreement on renter's insurance and it was put off by the roommate I could see some sort of an argument for him being required to pay something (since with insurance they would pay significantly less out). However, if they both agreed to delay getting renter's insurance (even if it was mainly because of one of them) I would just consider it unfortunate timing, but not something that you could put the blame on someone for.


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