Profile picture for klaklakla

My landlord promised to, but failed to check for burst pipes when I was gone. Is he responsible?

I went on vacation when it had been 60+ degrees for many days.  My landlord sends a notice on real cold days asking tenants to keep the heat on if they are going to be gone and asks them to tell them when you are gone so they can inspect your unit.  I notified the landlord that I was going to be gone.  5 days later they issued a freeze notice when I was still gone so I was not able to put the heat on. But the landlord failed to inspect my unit and the pipes burst.  Is the landlord responsible for the ceiling damage?
  • March 26 2011 - East Boulder
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Answers (8)

Profile picture for wetdawgs
In the Boulder area, IMHO (not legal advice) it is reasonable to have the heat set on low during the freeze season (Sept - May) if one is out for several days.   In the area, the swings in temperature are very wide so one can't judge the weather in five days from today's temps.   We've experienced 95 F one day, and 6" of snow on the ground the next.  

You may wish to call the Colorado landlord/tenant hotline for their input.
  • March 27 2011
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Don't you have a thermostat that can be set to a certain temperature so it only comes on when it's cold?
  • March 27 2011
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Profile picture for klaklakla
Thank you ArrigoRE.  The lease simply states that you provide climate control that is reasonable under the circumstances.  It does not seem reasonable to keep the heat on 24/7 when you are on vacation and when it is warm outside.  The heat requirement is in the separate notice they send out and I could not have complied even if I wanted. The only damage was from the holes they cut in the ceiling and wall to find the burst pipe.  Interestingly, they are only seeking to recover to fix the drywall repair and not the pipes. 
  • March 26 2011
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Profile picture for ArrigoRE

I'm not an attorney & therefore cannot give legal advise. My suggest is that you go back to your lease.  Are there details relative to being absent from the property and your responsibilities written into the lease?  It would seemed that if you followed the usual procedure ( unfortunately with only verbal notice) then you should be covered. Do you have any way of verifying the notice you gave to the landlord,  Did you incur damages/loss of use etc?
Good luck!

  • March 26 2011
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Profile picture for klaklakla
Of course they are saying that I have to pay.  My issue is that they I relied upon the notice which said they would inspect and they did not.  In fact, when I returned and asked them what happened they first said "why didn't you tell us you were going to be gone."  When I reminded them that I told them, they essentially said "so what the notice said you have to keep your heat on" even though it says to IF the temp is below 30.  The problem is that they forgot I told them I was going to be gone so when it got cold they failed to inspect.  If it has been freezing when I left and the freeze notice had been issued that is one thing.  But the notice, which was the first one of 2011 did not come out until after I was gone, and I was not in a place that had good internet service.
  • March 26 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
what does the landlord say? 
  • March 26 2011
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Profile picture for klaklakla
Thanks for your answer. The freeze notice only requires a verbal notice which I gave to the landlord at the same time when I paid my rent early.  And, I gave them the duration, but did not tell them the heat was off, as the freeze notice only requires it to be on IF the temp is under 30 degrees.  The lease does not say that the landlord will turn it on, nor does it say the tenant must leave it on at all times. Last the landlord did put the heat on, which was the expectation given that they asked tenants to notify them.  
  • March 26 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Are you new to Boulder?  The temperatures swing so wildly in Boulder, we'd never plan more than 2 days ahead for temperatures during Sept through May.

 Did you notify your landlord in writing that you were going to be gone, the duration and that you were leaving the heat off?  Does your lease say that the landlord will turn the heat on for you while you are gone with this notice?  Without these protections, you might find that you are responsible.   
  • March 26 2011
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