I think my landlord damaged my property (TV and stand) while working in my apartment. He says he did nothing, but my stand mysteriously collapsed on the day he was fixing my lights. Does Massachusetts law require him to pay for the damage?
-- (Posted by LJ on the Forum Chat Room.)
Massachusetts law allows you to seek compensation from your landlord if you can prove that your property was in fact damaged by your landlord and that his actions (or omissions) were negligent or intentional. If you go to small claims court, you will have to prove (by a preponderance of the evidence) that your landlord did something to your TV/stand to cause the damage. Your landlord might argue that he never touched the stand, or that he merely brushed against the stand and it collapsed because or YOUR negligence in assembling the piece. If you meet your burden of proof at this first stage, you will then have to prove your damages: either the value of the property to be replaced or the cost of repairs.
Your landlord may also be liable for damages caused by his inaction. For example, if he fails to correct an electrical problem after being notified of its existence and a resulting fire damages your furniture, he may be liable.
Tenants can protect their property even in situations where no party is at fault (such as water damage caused by a broken pipe) by purchasing renters’ insurance.