What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? CA
I rent an upstairs unit in a 2-story apartment building. *EDIT* I do not have renter's insurance.
My washing machine malfunctioned and overflowed. The landlord's said the insurances would handle it. Now, I received subrogation latter from the downstairs insurance/collection saying I must pay for the $10,000 repairs.
On September 14, 2012 I was washing clothes. I put in a fairly small load of delicates. I was sorting more laundry in my bedroom to the right of the washer/dryer. I heard a large splashing sound of water and immediately checked the washer. It had begun to overflow. I turned it off and pulled some towels from the dryer (about 3) to soak up the spilled water. The water also spread into the hallway carpet in front of the washer/dryer. I began removing the water from the washer drum by hand with a bucket. The downstairs tenant (also a renter) came up and informed me that her ceiling was leaking. I told her what ha d just happened but that I had already turned off the unit and cleaned up the mess. I left a message for my landlord and explained the situation. He called back within the hour and said he would send a repairman to look at the washer in Monday.
On Monday, the repairman came and said that the timer/water level sensor was not working and fixed it.
Over the next two weeks, I saw Restoration Management Company visit the downstairs unit 2 and dump out about half a garbage can of water (large, round kind). I'm assuming they vacuumed the water & dried the wall.
I was never contacted or followed up with about what has happened or if all was ok.
A month and a half later, October 31, the owner of the downstairs unit came and said he wanted to have some contractor inspect all our faucets to see if there was a deeper water leak. I had family over as it was Halloween and my grandson's birthday, so I told him I would inform my landlord and he gave me his contact info.
I left a message for my landlord. His son returned my call as his father was on vacation. I explained the situation to his son, who said he would contact the downstairs owner and let the insurance companies handle it.
For the next 2 1/2 months, (November-early January) I witnessed and heard the downstairs tenants have kitchen cabinets, bathroom toilets and sinks, hardwood flooring, and full sheets of drywall installed/repaired all by a single man (who seems to live in a neighboring building on the complex area).
Again, during all of this neither my landlord, the downstairs tenant, or owner informed me of the situation/outcome.
On Saturday, February 9, 2013, after use and flushing I noticed the toilet bowl never completely refilled with water. I flushed it again and plunged it and it seemed fine. Within 5 minutes I heard water trickling an checked the bathroom. A small amount of water had overflowed. I turned of the water to the toilet and was able to soak up the spilled water with a single towel. As I was leaving my home, about 30-40 minutes later, the downstairs tenant was outside and mentioned that water was dripping from the vent or fan in her bathroom. I told her I had a minor toilet overflow, but it had already been cleaned up and the water was off.
So, I called my landlord who was perturbed by the incident. At first he made it seem like a minor problem, but as I expressed my concern that maybe there was a deeper plumbing issue that causes water to easily leak, he suggested that I plunged the toilet wrong and that's why it overflowed. I was shocked at the comment and remarked that it was the only way to fix the toilet. He said he just hopes the downstairs owner doesn't complain because he was already dealing with the $10,000 damages from the washer incident in September. *EDIT* During this conversation he also mentioned that during their repairs, they noticed a bad (old?) pipe issue. I do not know if the pipe issue is related or if it was also fixed**
On March 1, I received a letter from Jonathan Neil & Associates. It lists the downstairs owner's name and insurance (Western United/AAA) as the client. It stated that it is naming me as the tortfeasor in a subrogation case and that I must pay the $10,000 damages/repairs.
I was under the assumption that my landlord's insurance and the downstairs owner's insurance had already resolved this.
Is this legal/correct? Shouldn't their insurance be subrogating my landlord/landlord's insurance?
1. Is it possible that my landlord or his insurance is refusing to pay, and has told them to recover the money from me?
2. Is this just an error, and the letter is addressed to me, but intended for my landlord?
I want to ask my landlord if this is the case, but also want to be informed/prepared if the 1st option is the case.