Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Florida

Tenant malicious intent

A good relationship with a tenant of 4 years who lives next door soured to the point that I released him from the 3 months remaining on the lease which he did not take advantage of. When doing a 60day pre-move out inspection I noticed the water heater was oozing orange goo and had streaks running down the side. I called a professional and the tank had filled with water on the inside and could have started a fire or given off an electrical shock. Tenant said he didn't notice the black red and orange streaks nor the wet floor molding. His washer and dryer are right next to the heater and it is in a place where he has to walk by to get to his office and the garage. The professionals said this was damage that did not happen over night, but over a period of time maybe 6-7 months. He stored his mops and brooms next to the water heater and had put a trunk that we had given him in front of it. Everyone that saw the pictures and the real thing agree that it was not something you could ''not notice''. At the risk of his own family he could have caused serious damage. It cost me $650 to replace. How much can I charge him and how? He has renter's insurance. He had no intention of letting me know there was a problem. His lease is up 6/30/0

Asked on 5/14/09, 12:08 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Alan Wagner Wagner, Vaughan & McLaughlin, P.A.
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Re: Tenant malicious intent

I don't think that you can charge him anything. You don't sat how old the water heater was, but they do go bad. It sounds like this one went bad. Yes, it could have caused a fire, but it did not. Had you known earlier, the heater would have had to be replaced then. As the landlord, you have a right to inspect the premises and duty to perform maintenance on appliances. Even assuming that replacement could have been avoided had you known earlier (which I really doubt), you don't get a new heater out of the deal. You'd get only the then current value of the old water heater -- which ain't much.

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5/14/09, 7:44 am

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