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When Renter's Apartment Floods, Who's to Blame?

6:23 PM, Dec 3, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tamiya Williams lived at Londontowne Apartments for two years, but now she plans to move out before her lease even ends.

"They wanted to offer me another apartment, but I lost everything that I had," said Williams.

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Williams said she was in Louisiana, visiting her hospitalized mother when she received a call from the apartment complex. A plumbing leak in her unit had flooded her apartment.

"They called me on the 16th to say they found water running out of my back door," she said.

When she returned, Williams found damage and mold growing on the walls. "My furniture, my children's clothes, we lost everything," she added.

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But Williams said when she to Londontowne for help, she was surprised by its response. "They keep telling me it is not their fault," said Williams.

Apartment manager Shatori Floyd said Londontowne is not responsible and that Williams should have had renter's insurance.

Floyd said she gave Williams two options: staying in a hotel until the repairs were finished or transferring to another unit.

Attorney Fred Elefant, an expert in Florida's landlord tenant act, said it can be difficult to prove the landlord is responsible.

"Only time the landlord would be liable is if he was negligent. Negligent would mean that he would have had some knowledge that the slab leak might have occurred, or that there had been slab leaks in the apartment before," said Elefant.

Elefant said a tenant like Williams, who did not have renters insurance, can fight back in court, but proving the landlord's negligence might be difficult.

Williams said she just wanted to landlord to assume some responsibility for the damage. "I just asked them to meet me in the middle, my kids lost everything and they're telling me there's nothing they can do," she said. 

Williams said even if there's no legal requirement, what about a moral obligation?


















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