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View Full Version : Life What's fair? (Water Damage Question)


Rain Man
06-24-2011, 07:09 PM
Thank you in advance for your wise counsel (bowing with hands in prayer position).

What's the fair thing in this situation?

We're on the fifth floor of an office building, and have a kitchen in our space. The sink is clogged for some reason, and the maintenance guy pulled the little u-shaped pipe off and put a bucket under the drain. Supposedly they're going to do the anti-clog thing on Monday. I think this happened Thursday morning, but don't recall.

We put a note on the sink not to use it.

Now, the dishwasher is next to the sink, and one of our administrative people started it up. I don't think she knew that the dishwasher drained into into the same drain, so when the dishwasher drained it dumped the water out under the sink, which then ran around on the floor and made its way down to the fourth floor. At that point it set off a fire alarm, so the fire department came out. I don't know the extent of the damage on the fourth floor. I would suspect it's not major considering this is your typical office building with cheapish walls and ceiling tiles, but I don't know if there's also any kind of fire department bill for a false alarm.

The maintenance guy just came up and told me that the landlord is planning to hold us responsible for water damage.

I want to be fair about this, but don't want to pay a bunch of money if it's a landlord deal. What thinks you?

Brock
06-24-2011, 07:13 PM
Your maintenance guy is kind of a moron. The water should have been turned off.

Rain Man
06-24-2011, 07:16 PM
Your maintenance guy is kind of a moron. The water should have been turned off.

Now that's an excellent point. I hadn't even thought about that.

JD10367
06-24-2011, 07:28 PM
Yeah, the plumber should've just turned the water off. A note doesn't really cut it. Of course, the plumber can just claim that "you office people" told him to leave the water on so you could use the sink to fill up cups or something. :shrug: Probably a no-win situation, so you might just have to bite the bullet and cover the damage.

MIAdragon
06-24-2011, 07:35 PM
I'm not sure why he pulled the pipe for a clog, then left it off? As stupid as he was your emp still caused the damage and u are on the hook.

alnorth
06-24-2011, 07:42 PM
I think you are pretty well screwed. At best, maybe the landlord is partially responsible for not getting on it right away (though I'd think 4 days and a sign is pretty good). If he's determined to ask you to pay for it, that would take a fight and in the end you'll have a pissed off landlord.

It was an accident, no one intended the water damage to happen, the maintenance guy wasn't bright, but your minion should not have turned on the dishwasher.

If the damage is not outrageous or horrifyingly expensive (or covered by insurance if it is), just pay it, be done with it, and have a happy landlord.

seclark
06-24-2011, 07:47 PM
so, is DaFace mopping the floor on a friday night?
sec

RubberSponge
06-24-2011, 07:55 PM
Simply shutting the water off may have not been an option. Since it is a office building the water line may have been in a tower line formation thingah mahjiggy. Meaning if they turned off the water to you, they would have had to turn off the water to all floors above and below you at that point.

But I guess you could try to use them not shutting the supply off as a negotiating tactic if things go badly. But still they probably wouldn't absolve you of much of the damages anyway.

Rain Man
06-24-2011, 08:02 PM
This is officially starting to suck.

HonestChieffan
06-24-2011, 08:06 PM
Sucks but you pay the toll

Predarat
06-24-2011, 08:26 PM
I put shared blame but if your landlord is a dick or a ****, like most landlords are, the fight may be just as expensive or more expensive then the cost of the repairs. Maybe diplomaticly try to split the blame,but have them pay more, state your case and work up from there. But I have a bad feeling about this.

JD10367
06-24-2011, 08:35 PM
Simply shutting the water off may have not been an option. Since it is a office building the water line may have been in a tower line formation thingah mahjiggy. Meaning if they turned off the water to you, they would have had to turn off the water to all floors above and below you at that point.

Another good point. Ultimately, though, whether they couldn't turn the water off or there were shutoffs right under the sink, the fact that an employee turned on the dishwasher and caused the leak would probably be the deciding factor in any litigation. The plumber may have been a dumbass, but he didn't turn on the dishwasher.

KCBOSS1
06-24-2011, 08:40 PM
Sorry dude. I think you're on the hook for this one.

CrazyHorse
06-24-2011, 08:47 PM
Sounds like you're on the hook for it. If you have insurance it might cover it. Water damage claims are extremely expensive. As a store owner of a carpet cleaning company, I have some experience w/water damage.

Good luck. Hopefully, there is little damage. Check your policy, if you have one.

alnorth
06-24-2011, 08:55 PM
I'm much more knowledgable about personal lines insurance than I am about commercial insurance, but I cant imagine your BOP wouldn't pay for it if you didn't have some dodgy cheap crapola insurance policy. (If you were not intentionally trying to cut corners on insurance, and your policy does not cover a flood due to a plumbing mishap where your employee is at fault, fire your insurance guy. That looks like a pretty basic claim to me, its not like the river flooded, this is a plumbing water damage liability claim.)

It may come down to whether the damage vs your deductible makes reporting the claim worth it or not, but either way I don't see how you get out of this.

Baconeater
06-24-2011, 08:55 PM
I blame maintenance, I always try to get drains cleared the same day, or the next day at the VERY latest. If they knew about the clog on Thursday morning there's no fucking way in hell they should've put off clearing the drain until Monday.

Rain Man
06-24-2011, 09:05 PM
We've got decent insurance, I think, but I sure hope it's not at that level.

We're on the 5th floor, and the 6th floor is a health club. We frequently have minor leaks from them and have had significant leaks a couple of times. It's never really been bad damage, just some ceiling tiles and maybe some paint in the worst cases. They're saying it damaged one of the fire alarms, and I have no idea what that costs.

Baconeater
06-24-2011, 09:10 PM
The maintenance guy also should've known to disable the dishwasher...as far as I'm concerned, once they knew about the problem, anything further that happens is on them.

Phobia
06-24-2011, 09:46 PM
It's absolutely a maintenance problem. There's absolutely no excuse for leaving a drain in that condition. There's no excuse for not disabling the dishwasher if he's going to leave a commercial office space drain unhook 4 business days. If the maintenance guy is on the landlord's payroll, I would fight it. If he's contracted to the landlord then his own liability insurance should cover the accident. This is 100% negligence as far as I'm concerned. You can't leave drains open without a disaster prevention strategy. I'd stop paying rent until the landlord pulls his head out. You're looking for new space anyway.

Simplex3
06-24-2011, 10:54 PM
I'm with Phil. No way in hell they should have left the drain trap off for more than a few minutes. What's the down side to cleaning out the current one, putting it back on, then replacing it a week later when you get the new super-part?

Additionally you said that your and your staff put the note on the sink, not the plumber. Screw them.

stlchiefs
06-24-2011, 11:01 PM
Maintenance all the way. Who pulls a trap and doesn't replace it for days??? If it's a maintenance guy that works for the LL or was hired by the LL you have a better argument as well. Worst case scenario you turn it into insurance and they try to subro against the maintenance company.

alnorth
06-24-2011, 11:09 PM
Worst case scenario you turn it into insurance and they try to subro against the maintenance company.

This actually may be the best choice. Ask your insurance guy if you'll be raped for turning in a claim. If not, then great, your insurance company wont have any qualms about fighting the claim or subrogating on your behalf if they think its worth it. They have no relationship with your landlord, they dont have to worry about keeping him happy, so they wont care if your landlord is pissed.

If the damage is financially insignificant, then just pay it. If the damage is big, your insurance wont hammer you too bad for the claim, that type of claim is covered if its your fault, and the insurance company is taking a "oh hell no" attitude, then fine. Its not your fault the landlord isn't getting paid, you turned in the claim, if the insurer seems to be unconvinced that its your fault, then tell them to yell at the insurance company. Either way, your landlord has no reason to be pissed at you.

Baconeater
06-24-2011, 11:25 PM
I'm with Phil. No way in hell they should have left the drain trap off for more than a few minutes. What's the down side to cleaning out the current one, putting it back on, then replacing it a week later when you get the new super-part?

Additionally you said that your and your staff put the note on the sink, not the plumber. Screw them.
There is no "super part", it's a drain trap, and any maintenance shop should have at least a half-dozen of them on hand. If the clog was simply in the trap (which it rarely is) then there's absolutely no freaking excuse whatsoever for not having the problem completely resolved within an hour of it being reported and the maintenance guy is a drooling retard and should be fired on the spot.

DanT
06-24-2011, 11:26 PM
I don't know what the law says, but in my opinion if the plumber didn't make it clear that you are not to use the dishwasher, then it's his fault. If he did make it clear but he failed to apologize for not being sufficiently competent to turn the water off to all of the fixtures that would be draining into the sink, then he's only 75% to blame. If he did apologize for being so incompetent, then I would put the plumber at only 50% blame. ;)

blaise
06-24-2011, 11:28 PM
I agree, if the LL hires the maintenance guy it's on them. The plumbing, I assume, is owned by the landlord. You don't own the pipes. You probably aren't allowed to work on the plumbing. The dishwasher didn't cause the problem, the faulty plumbing did.

Shaid
06-24-2011, 11:39 PM
You're screwed but I do like to run through sprinklers.

blaise
06-24-2011, 11:45 PM
Honestly, I wouldn't pay a dime and I would make him sue me for it. And I wouldn't offer him any money towards it, either. Unless he gets a court judgement against you, how would it even adversely affect you, monetarily?

alnorth
06-24-2011, 11:51 PM
how would it even adversely affect you, monetarily?

The problem here is this isn't some random Joe off the street who may or may not have been wronged. Its the landlord of the property where his business is located. Thats not a guy you usually wanna piss off by taking a stand for something marginal. If its big money, sure, go do what you gotta do, but this might be one of those irritating cases where its not worth it to fight.

Baconeater
06-24-2011, 11:59 PM
The problem here is this isn't some random Joe off the street who may or may not have been wronged. Its the landlord of the property where his business is located. Thats not a guy you usually wanna piss off by taking a stand for something marginal. If its big money, sure, go do what you gotta do, but this might be one of those irritating cases where its not worth it to fight.
What's the landlord going to do to him? Granted, I have no idea how commercial real estate works, but a residential tenant can piss you off all he wants and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. If you retaliate in any way you're at risk of having a fair housing lawsuit slapped on your ass.

alnorth
06-25-2011, 12:26 AM
What's the landlord going to do to him? Granted, I have no idea how commercial real estate works, but a residential tenant can piss you off all he wants and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. If you retaliate in any way you're at risk of having a fair housing lawsuit slapped on your ass.

Well yeah, his landlord probably wont do something that can later be proven in a courtroom to be illegal.

BigRock
06-25-2011, 02:09 AM
I'd say you shouldn't have to pay anything, but you did hire a dizzy broad who couldn't figure out that the water from a dishwasher would go into the sink with the "DO NOT USE" sign that's right next to it. And you put her in an administrative position!

I'm not up on my labor laws, but that sounds like a fineable offense.

unlurking
06-25-2011, 05:26 AM
No doubt that's a maintenance issue.

If the landlord is threatening to charge you for the damages, I would contact him immediately and explain the situation. I wouldn't be surprised if the maintenance guy was a bit dishonest with him regarding the situation. As others have stated, the guy acted less than competently, and may have attempted to cover it up with the landlord.

BigMeatballDave
06-25-2011, 05:32 AM
Maintenance issue. They should have warned not to use the dishwasher. IMO, they should have disabled it.

Hog Farmer
06-25-2011, 05:43 AM
Now that's an excellent point. I hadn't even thought about that.

You hadn't considered he was a moron and it took someone from CP to point it out ?:facepalm:

Hog Farmer
06-25-2011, 05:52 AM
Landlords are expected by law to make repairs that are necessary within a [U]reasonable amount of time[U] What that time frame is would have to actually be decided by the judge. I would say 48 to 72 hours on a sink that is necessary for your office. If you end up footing the bill I would immediately start loosening all the doorknobs on a daily basis and reporting them to be fixed

Dave Lane
06-25-2011, 07:12 AM
Good news, bad news. Unless the landlord is in a good mood, you are responsible for the damage. I doubt it's much and their guy may just replace a couple ceiling tiles and not bill you.

Dave Lane
06-25-2011, 07:16 AM
Landlords are expected by law to make repairs that are necessary within a [U]reasonable amount of time[U] What that time frame is would have to actually be decided by the judge. I would say 48 to 72 hours on a sink that is necessary for your office. If you end up footing the bill I would immediately start loosening all the doorknobs on a daily basis and reporting them to be fixed

You obviously are not familiar with commercial real estate laws. Also they did warn Rainman Inc. not to use the water in the area. 100% Rainman Inc.'s fault. Now they may have mercy and with the economy as bad as it is they may decide it's not worth potentially pissing off a tenant. I would eat the expense but that's me.

Just Passin' By
06-25-2011, 11:01 AM
Seems like negligence on the part of maintenance.

Fish
06-25-2011, 11:04 AM
I would burn the building down. Just to be on the safe side.

ClevelandBronco
06-25-2011, 11:14 AM
I tend to side with Phobia. Maintenance fumbled this one.

If you are thinking of taking full responsibility, however, I would advise you to learn first how much responsibility there is to take. I'd hate to see you take full responsibility then discover that there was a $500,000 piece of equipment directly under the leak.

Iowanian
06-25-2011, 11:47 AM
If the maintenance guy had the drain pulled apart, he should have shut the water off, put a sign to not use it or something.

bRainman, Inc aren't plumbing professionals are they? Did bRainman, Inc leave a clogged drain in your office for a week? Did bRainman, Inc leave an open drain?

If the landlord wants to be jerks about it, I'd think that would be the time you ask them about the quality of maintenance you're paying for with your rent, and if it's acceptable timeframes for a sink to be clogged for an entire week.

bevischief
06-25-2011, 12:13 PM
Shouldn't there have been a water cut off value to the dishwasher? I had to get one installed on mine the last time it was replaced. Why did the maintenance man turn the breaker off for the dishwasher?

Saul Good
06-25-2011, 02:36 PM
The landlord can go fuck himself. This accident was not the result of negligence on your ("your" meaning your company) part. It was the result of negligence on the maintenance person's part.

Would a prudent person be expected to know that they can't run the dishwasher because the sink was under repair if no clear warning was given? Probably not.

Would a prudent maintenance person be expected to know better than to leave a sink with an open pipe and the water on without putting up a very visible sign stating not to use the dishwasher nor sink? Absolutely.

Chiefshrink
06-26-2011, 01:02 PM
Maintenance guy should have known that most DWs are connected to sinks and he should have shut the water off at that point. Landlord hands down!!!!

Rain Man
06-26-2011, 01:08 PM
This is turning out much better than I thought.


My challenge, though, is that I have a really weak negotiating position. We're having to crawl back on our hands and knees to do month to month leases since Keith Neff of Broe Realty screwed us over on our new commercial lease. That's Keith Neff for anyone who missed it. Since we're starting our search over, and since our lease has ended, we're hoping the current landlord will keep us at the same price. So far they have, but if we get into an argument about this stuff it could result in a big short-term rent increase.

Even if it's not our responsibility I may pay it if it's not much money just to keep that good relationship on the rent stuff.

Baconeater
06-26-2011, 01:20 PM
Oh, yeah, you are in a dicey situation, especially if you are definitely going to move and the landlord knows it.

And did you say Keith Neff of Broe Realty is the one who screwed you over? Just want to be clear about this.

Rain Man
06-26-2011, 01:22 PM
Oh, yeah, you are in a dicey situation, especially if you are definitely going to move and the landlord knows it.

And did you say Keith Neff of Broe Realty is the one who screwed you over? Just want to be clear about this.


Yeah, it was Keith Neff of Broe Realty. Spelled "Keith Neff of Broe Realty", but it's pronounced "Keith Neff of Broe Realty".

Just Passin' By
06-26-2011, 01:26 PM
If you're month-to-month, and you can't move within that time frame, the landlord has you over a barrel. Right and wrong isn't going to have much to do with it. At this point, you might be well served to offer a compromise, where you offer to pay a portion, as if you were dealing with comparative negligence.

Rain Man
06-27-2011, 02:32 PM
Where's that thumbs-up thingie?

So this is weird, but we had the leak and the false alarm and stuff in the late afternoon, and then later that night the floor above us also had a water leak and a false alarm and the fire department had to come out again. Something is obviously wrong in the plumbing because the first floor had a problem last week. So the landlord was reasonable and more or less said, "Eh, it's all screwed up right now, so if you can just pay for what the dishwasher did (couple of hundred bucks), we have to fix all the other stuff anyway."

I'm not sure what's screwed up with the plumbing, but suspect it's got something to do with the first-floor restaurant since they got hit first and probably tend to have the biggest and messiest operation related to water.

DeezNutz
06-27-2011, 02:33 PM
Best couple of hundred bucks you've spent in awhile, huh? Good deal.

Iowanian
06-27-2011, 02:37 PM
I don't know much, but I do know that If I'm ever looking for commercial real estate properties in the Denver metropolitan area, I'll definitely not consider the shady services of Keith Neff of Broe Realty.

pr_capone
06-27-2011, 02:52 PM
Keith Neff of Broe Realty can suck a bit fat hairy horse cock.

JD10367
06-27-2011, 02:53 PM
Keith Neff of Broe Realty

Anagrams to

Fink Beater Heft Foolery

Baconeater
06-27-2011, 04:25 PM
Keith Neff of Broe Realty has made it to the first page of search results.

http://oi54.tinypic.com/zv323b.jpg

Baconeater
06-27-2011, 04:26 PM
Oh, and your landlord is still a fuckstick for making you pay for anything at all.

kstater
06-27-2011, 04:30 PM
Yeah, it was Keith Neff of Broe Realty. Spelled "Keith Neff of Broe Realty", but it's pronounced "Keith Neff of Broe Realty".

So is this Keith Neff of Broe Realty the same Keith Neff of Broe Realty that you were working on a commercial lease with? The same Keith Neff of Broe Realty that strung you along in the process of closing on a property only to have Keith Neff of Broe Realty find a different tennant willing to pay more money? Because I wouldn't want to get this Keith Neff of Broe Realty confused with a different Keith Neff of Broe Realty.

Rain Man
06-27-2011, 05:07 PM
In fairness, Keith Neff of Broe Realty sent us an unsolicited proposal today for the same pricing in another building that has a worse location, no free gym, and no on-site restaurant. It's a nicer-looking building, though, and the space is nice.

If Keith Neff of Broe Realty sweetens the deal enough to make up for those differences and to show his remorse and try to do right by us, then I could possibly let Keith Neff of Broe Realty out of my doghouse. I'm giving Keith Neff of Broe Realty a chance to display his sense of honor. But he needs to make up our losses and then some, and not just offer us a less desirable option at the same price. All things being equal, I would currently prefer to sign a lease with any broker in the universe, including Taliban brokers, than with Keith Neff of Broe Realty, unless Keith Neff of Broe Realty does right by us going forward.

Rain Man
06-27-2011, 05:07 PM
So is this Keith Neff of Broe Realty the same Keith Neff of Broe Realty that you were working on a commercial lease with? The same Keith Neff of Broe Realty that strung you along in the process of closing on a property only to have Keith Neff of Broe Realty find a different tennant willing to pay more money? Because I wouldn't want to get this Keith Neff of Broe Realty confused with a different Keith Neff of Broe Realty.

Yeah, it was that Keith Neff of Broe Realty.

Brock
06-27-2011, 05:58 PM
What I'm taking from this thread at this point is that Keith Neff of Broe Realty is someone that I shouldn't trust with my real estate needs.

Dave Lane
06-27-2011, 05:59 PM
Try offering him half of what you are paying now to sign a longer term lease. Things are bleak right now he might take it. Or call the negotiating firm of Dave and Lane and he will pro bono save you serious money.

I addition to being a master debater, I am a master negotiator. Seriously. I live for this stuff. Pm me if you want help.

This is turning out much better than I thought.


My challenge, though, is that I have a really weak negotiating position. We're having to crawl back on our hands and knees to do month to month leases since Keith Neff of Broe Realty screwed us over on our new commercial lease. That's Keith Neff for anyone who missed it. Since we're starting our search over, and since our lease has ended, we're hoping the current landlord will keep us at the same price. So far they have, but if we get into an argument about this stuff it could result in a big short-term rent increase.

Even if it's not our responsibility I may pay it if it's not much money just to keep that good relationship on the rent stuff.

cdcox
06-27-2011, 06:08 PM
I'm not sure what's screwed up with the plumbing, but suspect it's got something to do with the first-floor restaurant since they got hit first and probably tend to have the biggest and messiest operation related to water.

Pipes with bullet holes tend to leak.

ClevelandBronco
06-27-2011, 06:15 PM
I addition to being a master debater...

Is that two words?

DanT
06-28-2011, 07:21 AM
Where's that thumbs-up thingie?

So this is weird, but we had the leak and the false alarm and stuff in the late afternoon, and then later that night the floor above us also had a water leak and a false alarm and the fire department had to come out again. Something is obviously wrong in the plumbing because the first floor had a problem last week. So the landlord was reasonable and more or less said, "Eh, it's all screwed up right now, so if you can just pay for what the dishwasher did (couple of hundred bucks), we have to fix all the other stuff anyway."

I'm not sure what's screwed up with the plumbing, but suspect it's got something to do with the first-floor restaurant since they got hit first and probably tend to have the biggest and messiest operation related to water.

I'm sure that whatever is right with that office building is something that a sufficiently incompetent maintenance staff can overcome, the way they conquered the fact that your dishwater used to get along with the neighbors downstairs.