Rent it Right
For this reason, your landlord might balk -- he won't want to be the one causing extra work, not when some of the damage can be covered by your policy, and the rest by you.
It's also possible, depending on where you live, that expecting you to pay for the damage would violate public policy and so would not be ordered by a judge. In a few states, such as Oklahoma and Washington, courts view the tenant's rent payments as contributing to the cost of insurance premiums.
In other words, the tenant is viewed as a co-insured with the landlord. Courts in these states don't let insurance companies subrogate against tenants, because that would amount to suing their own insured for reimbursement. By the same token, it's against public policy to require tenants to carry liability policies, because the landlord (and the co-insured tenant) already have one that covers damage to the landlord's property.
There's a lesson to be learned here: When turning over your rented home to a guest or house sitter, write a written agreement with the house sitter, in which the sitter promises to indemnify (reimburse) you if any act of his results in monetary damage to you.
That way, if your friend fails to reimburse you for the cost of repairing your floor, you'll have a head start on a lawsuit: You won't have to prove that you intended for the sitter to be legally responsible for harm caused by his carelessness, even though he is a guest in your apartment.
Janet Portman is an attorney and managing editor at Nolo. She specializes in landlord/tenant law and is co-author of "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" and "Every Tenant's Legal Guide." She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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