My daughter moved out of an apartment in 2021, and moved out of state. When she moved back home to Maryland, she tried to find an apartment.
Unfortunately, she has been unable to find one because her former landlord said that there was water damage in the kitchen under the sink and between the wall.
Furthermore, the landlord said she owes them $5,000 for the replacement. Potential landlords now see that on her credit report, and they will not rent to her.
The leak happened during the pandemic, and my daughter said she called maintenance many times, but she never got a response from the landlord’s office.
This was her first apartment and, like most young people, she did not pursue the issue. She left the apartment believing the leak was the landlord’s responsibility.
“‘My daughter said she called maintenance many times but she never got a response from the landlord’s office.’”
She knew about the faucet leaking, so she kept a thick towel between the faucet and wall to soak up water. She moved out of the apartment in March 2021.
The original management company sold the apartment complex, and the new landlord raised the rent from $890 per month to $1,200 per month.
I told her to go to the housing authority to see if they could negotiate for her. Is she legally responsible for water damage?
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This is a hard one to figure out, due to the fact that you are writing on behalf of your daughter — so it’s not easy for us to reconcile certain facts.
You didn’t specify where your daughter had rented the apartment in 2021, but I can give you some general guidance as to her rights.
Assuming she rented in New York City, where MarketWatch is based, here’s what she needs to do. (The law may vary from state to state.)
New York, like many states, has a “Warranty of Habitability.” The landlord has a responsibility to provide a livable, safe and sanitary home.
This warranty “makes the landlord or owner responsible for keeping your apartment and the building safe and livable at all times.” That includes leaks.
According to the New York Court Unified System: “A violation of the warranty of habitability can be a defense and a counterclaim in a nonpayment case.”
“The landlord or owner must maintain services and conditions that you were told about when you moved in,” it adds. You can read more here.
Rosalind Black, the citywide housing director at Legal Services New York, said that it’s “unusual” that renters would be taken by surprise by an unpaid bill.
“Landlords have a responsibility to provide a livable, safe and sanitary home for tenants.”
Please bear in mind that the landlord/management company should give her a detailed invoice and estimates to show how they spent that $5,000.
Second, she needs to collect all the screenshots and recordings from all the times she contacted maintenance and the landlord to fix the matter.
Her lease may have stated that she should alert the landlord to any problems such as the plumbing, so they had an opportunity to fix it.
Did your daughter file a maintenance request via email, through an app, or by telephone? In other words, was it made in writing?
You also mentioned that she wasn’t able to rent because of the outstanding bill showing up on her credit report. This is unusual.
For an outstanding debt to appear on a credit report, the landlord would have had to take your daughter to court, Black said.
Some landlords do report on-time rent payments to the credit bureaus. Services like Experian Boost serve this purpose.
Ask your daughter if she was aware of this feature. And ask her exactly what happened for that bill to show up on her credit report.
After you have the facts, read her lease to see if she missed anything important. Someone is not giving all the facts.
When you have them, you can make an informed decision about how to move forward. Here are more details on Housing Court in New York.
If you daughter does not live in New York, her state of residence should have a similar court process to file a claim.
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