Can we sue our landlord for negligenceregarding a potentiallylife-threatening situation?

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Can we sue our landlord for negligenceregarding a potentiallylife-threatening situation?

A 4′ X 4′ volume of concrete ceiling fell into our kitchen barely missing my mom. She’s traumatized. We had complained to our landlord about that problem which was imminent. Landlord still hasn’t done anything about it yet and said that after 7 days he’s going send someone to have a look at it. That’s unbelievable. Because, more concrete may to fall anytime. We can’t go into our kitchen for the rest of 7 days or if worse, until that problem is fixed.

Asked on August 17, 2011 New York

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means the landlord must maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.

When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, tenant notifies landlord as you have done and landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making necessary repairs.  If the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time, the tenant has the following remedies: tenant can make the repairs (hire someone to repair the ceiling in your case) and deduct the cost from the rent or tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if tenant decides to stay on the premises, tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction. 

You can sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The ceiling is clearly a safety hazard constituting a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.


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