You decide to have a few friends over for an impromptu barbeque. Everyone’s having a great time drinking and laughing. When it comes time to fire up the grill, your friend, Bill-the-self-proclaimed-master-griller, sprays a stream of lighter fluid on the charcoal and sets it ablaze. Unfortunately, he neglects to pull the grill away from the building and the vinyl siding begins to melt.
Who’s responsible for the damage?
In Short – You Are
Even though you didn’t personally cause the damage to your building, you, the tenant named in the lease, are responsible for any damage caused by you, your guests, or your pets. Whether you answer to the landlord himself, his insurance company, or your renter’s insurance company, you are on the hook for the damages.
What If You’re Not Home?
Even if you’re out of town and you have a friend watch your place while you’re gone, you’re still responsible for any damage that occurs while you’re away.
So, if your friend overflows the toilet while housesitting, and it causes water damage, you’re the one who will have to pay for it.
What About Renter’s Insurance
In general, renter’s insurance only covers your belongings should they be damaged or stolen. If your renter’s insurance policy includes liability, it will cover others’ property if it is damaged from something you did – say a water leak in your upstairs apartment damages electronics in the apartment below yours.
Renter’s insurance rarely covers damage to your rental unit.
Dealing with Pet Damage
Even if your landlord is a pet lover himself, any damage your furry loved one causes is still your responsibility. You are legally obligated to cover any damages caused by your pet, even if it’s an accident or wear and tear over time.
This is a gray area in which you may or may not be liable for damages caused by a break into your apartment. The best thing to do is to file a police report immediately to provide legal proof of the damage and inform your landlord right away of the issue.
Check your lease for information pertaining to burglary and damage as it may put the responsibility on you to make repairs. If your landlord refuses to make repairs, check your local and/or state laws to determine who’s legally responsible in this case.
As a tenant, you are usually responsible for any damage to your apartment regardless of who causes it. The best thing to do is notify your landlord right away and pay for the repairs as quickly as possible to retain your reputation as a good tenant.