Murfreesboro, TN asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Tennessee

Q: If maintenance causes damage to our personal property, are they liable to replace it?

We originally had an issue upon move in of a frozen ac unit, maintenance came and “rigged” it to run anyway to get through Memorial Day weekend. They didn’t come back until we called again to ask when they were coming.

They came today and shut off one of the units. After about an hour, water began to drain through the ceiling fan and damaged our table and some electronics.

We were told that it was fine to have water leak this way for a short amount of time, and that they were unaware there was a second pipe that had become backed up.

I am sending an email tonight with pictures of damages and requests for replacement of damaged items. The lease has 2 clauses, 1 in insurance that says they aren’t responsible for damages to personal property by negligence of occupants/residents/or uninvited/invited guests. The other says not liable for damages of personal property, period, unless required by law.

Can they be allowed to damage my stuff by negligence and not replace it?

2 Lawyer Answers
Paul E. Tennison
Paul E. Tennison
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Brentwood, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: Based on the facts as you described them, they should replace your property that was damaged. The way you are going about it by emailing them pictures of what is damaged and requesting reimbursement is good. That could work. If they are unwilling to reimburse you after that, your next step could be filing an action in small claims court (General sessions court).

The answer to your question is yes. They may damage your things and not replace them. You may then have a claim against them which you would have to take them to court to adjudicate. I do not see any potential criminal issues here. Civil law is not self-executing, you would need to take action to seek reimbursement.

Depending on the amount of money at stake you could consider consulting with an attorney. Based on your description, your damages are fairly limited so you may be better off handling this yourself rather than paying an attorney. Good luck!

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Tallahassee, FL

A: This situation should be written up as a manuscript for a screenplay--or at least a commercial for renter's insurance.

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