Last week we had our day in court.
In case you missed it, in late January, on a Saturday morning at 1:15, I was awoken by water pouring through my ceiling and onto my bed. (I explained it pretty well in that blog post.) Drying out the ceiling and putting the room back together has taken a while. (I gave periodic updates here, here, and here.)
What we have been waiting on is figuring out who's going to pay for it. Landlady has been fighting with the upstairs neighbors since it happened.
The people upstairs rent the place from the woman who used to live upstairs, but had recently moved to an assisted living facility. The woman's daughter hired a management company to oversee the rental stuff.
When the water incident happened, landlady contacted the management company immediately after the plumber left. (The plumber determined that the upstairs neighbors had to have overflowed something as he couldn't replicate the issue. He checked for a burst pipe and then if any of the fixtures in the upstairs bathroom were leaking. They weren't.)
The management company said the renters claimed not to know anything, so they were not at fault. He had no idea where the water came from, but it was not their responsibility.
Landlady went to the owner's daughter. She put her in touch with their insurance company. Insurance company said renters didn't do anything, so they wouldn't cover the issue.
And it's gone around and around for months. Landlady decided to sue. (I mentioned serving the owner the papers a couple weeks back.)
Small claims court is interesting. I learned a lot. Hopefully, I'll never need to use any of this knowledge again. But I figured I might as well jot it down in one place.
First of all, it turns out that "where else could the f***ing water have come from?" is a valid legal argument.
The owner of the unit upstairs did not appear in court. Instead, the management company and insurance company showed up. They said that since we couldn't prove the water pouring in was due to their tenants (the plumber only proved that it wasn't a burst pipe or a leaky faucet), they couldn't be held liable.
The judge disagreed. Once he determined that their bathroom is directly above my bedroom, he explained that the preponderance of evidence suggested that the only reasonable explanation was that something had happened in their bathroom. Putting the renters at fault.
So, the hole in my ceiling will soon be no more. But of course it'll take time before the insurance company pays out. (At least we now have a judgment. That should help, I hope.) And I'll have to move everything out of my room (I moved everything back in when it became apparent that it would be a while. It's been three months since I moved all my stuff back in.) It looks like we're in the home stretch.
As this post got huge, I'll save the lessons I learned for a future post. Because there were some particular things that I did not know before this whole thing. You may find it interesting as well.