Am I liable if my landlord has installed a new heating system in my apartment.

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Am I liable if my landlord has installed a new heating system in my apartment.

I am a college student that lives in an old house which is separated into three apartments, one to each floor with different heating systems. Over this past winter our heating system which has not been properly serviced and cost 3600 per year to heat, had to be replaced. Now our landlord is trying to charge us $25,445 for a new heating system. first of all i think this price is awfully high and it may be insurance fraud and second why are we responsible, why isn’t his insurance covering this cost? Also do you think we should seek legal advice?

Asked on May 11, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

You could read your lease and see what it says but in this instance it wouldn't matter.  Even if there were a clause in the lease holding you responsible for replacement of the heating system, it would most likely be unenforceable.

The only claim your landlord would have is if you intentionally interfered with the heating system (ie damaged the furnace).  Since you did not indicate that this was the case, in my opinion, you bear no liability for the cost of the replacement system.

For further information here is a link to the Rhode Islant Landlord-Tenant Handbook www.brown.edu/Administration/Auxiliary_Housing/documents/LTHandbook.pdf

If there is a law school affiliated with your college or at least nearby go the legal clinic there, check this out with them. They do this kind of thing all of the time.  You could also call legal aid for their advice.

J.V., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Ok first I advise you to get out your lease and read it carefully. Make sure there is no language in it claiming you are responsible for such problems. Now even if it does state that I tend to say you are still not responsible.

You should definatley call a local landlord tenant attorney and speak with them. It sounds as if your landlord is attempting to take advantage of you and that is not right. As for insurance that should not be an issue because whether he has or does not have insurance plays no part on whether you would be responsible.

When you rent an apartment as a tenant the way a normal relationship goes is that you are responsible for the everyday upkeep and ensuring nothing gets damaged (this is why there are security deposits) you are not responsible for major issues such as a heating system. That is part of the house itself and as a renter not your responsibility.

Call a local attorney with a little pressure the landlord should back off realizing they cannot get away with this


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