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Malfunctioning door is a burden, but is landlord liable? by Robert Griswold
Q: Recently the garage door of the home I rent got stuck and I couldn’t get my car out of the garage to get to work. I missed part of my job and I asked my landlord to reimburse me for lost wages. She said she doesn’t have to. Is that true? I work on an hourly salary, so I wanted to bill her for the lost hours. A: I would side with your landlord, unless the garage door got stuck because of an ongoing failure of the landlord to properly maintain the garage door.
The reality of life is that things in any home or apartment will break. It is unfortunate, but if this was not a recurring problem then there is no way the landlord could have known it was going to happen.

Did you ever complain in advance and warn the landlord that you were having problems with the garage door?

While landlords need to be responsive, they are not the guarantors that nothing will ever break or go wrong in life.

If the electric power goes out in your apartment in the middle of the night and your alarm clock doesn’t go off at the set time, does your utility company reimburse you if you are a few hours late to work? I don’t think so.
I think you are being unreasonable.
This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of “Property Management for Dummies” and “Property Management Kit for Dummies” and co-author of “Real Estate Investing for Dummies.” E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at [email protected].
Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually.
Copyright 2010 Inman News
See Robert Griswold’s feature, The Unfair Late Fee.
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  • Lisa Everingham

    We had a similar incident when a fuse blew in one of our tenants apartments. We replaced the fuse by the close of the business day, however, she wanted us to pay for her “ruined” food in her refrigerator and for being late to work because she couldn’t blow dry her hair!!! (She later admitted she had been ironing and running a toaster on the same circuit as the refrig)

    Our response was to tell her to report it to her renter’s insurance -Because our policy does not cover tenant’s belongings – like food or hairdryers.

    This has proved to be a great way to stop arguments about other damaged items that tenants think we should pay for. We simply tell them to contact their renters insurance, which they agreed to obtain when they signed the lease. (To be honest we don’t check to make sure tenant’s purchase renters insurance, but we do make sure to inform them that it is necessary.)

  • George J. Fink

    The tenant failed in another respect which is any real effort to secure alternative transportation via a friend, co workers or public transportation or whatever other resources may have been available.

    All in the reply is true and basic in most law known to me. If the type of instant service to address any conceivable failure of mechanics is desired by a tenant we are basically looking at a nursing home or intensive care and I believe the going rate is $2000 to $3000 per day. I rathr doubt the tenant woul opt for that level of service.

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