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Water damage (my property) caused by another tenant

Posted by Amanda Plyley on July 24, 2000 at 17:15:51:

I live in a 1BR rent stabilized apt. in Brooklyn. There are 6 units in the building with a very part-time super. We were the most recent renovation and the most recent move-in in the building. Our lease was 7/1/99-7/1/00. We haven't signed a renewal.

The tenant upstairs (been there for 8+ years according to others in the bldg) keeps an illegal washer which has had leakage problems in the past. The landlord made her unplug/disconnect it and promise not to use it. We verbally notified him of water damage on our ceiling in November 1999. He sent her a certified letter telling her to stop using the washer or remove it. We asked him to repair our damage and he said that he wouldn't until he had proof that there would be no further damage. The damage grew incrementally worse, but not enough to be truly worrisome. We reminded him of the damage and verbally followed up on the resolution of the problem at least 3 times after November. On June 30 of this year the leakage grew much worse and caused water damage to bed linens and a mattress in our apartment (est. $650). We have withheld rent and sent a registered letter to the landlord on July 1. He has been out of the country on vacation and responded to us two weeks later. We were prepared to file a complaint with the DHCR at that point but allowed him another week to resolve the situation. We are now being told that because another tenant caused the water damage our landlord is not liable for our damages as he claims he is not negligent but followed up on all of our complaints. Since we don't have our complaints to him in writing is there any way to prove his negligence? We highly doubt that the other tenant will pay for our damages and the only available course of action will be to sue. We'd prefer not to have to do that as we're already looking to move out of the building.

Any advice or opinions about this situation would be appreciated.

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