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
  • 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
  • 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.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.