What to do about damage to personal property due to water damage?

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What to do about damage to personal property due to water damage?

I notified my landlords in June that there was a roof leak with visible water damage on the ceiling. I have phone records of the day when I did this. However they did not fix the leak. About 2 months ago, there was a lot of rain and the house developed terrible water damage. I am genetically susceptible to mold and developed severe environmental illness and had to move out immediately because I was so sick in the apartment. I was then unable to ever go back in the apartment.The landlords reimbursed me for the rent for the time when I was not able to live there and had their maintenance guy clean out my stuff for me. I had to throw most of it away since it was too moldy.I want to ask them to reimburse me for some of these expenses?

Asked on November 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If your landlord failed to fix a leak within a reasonable time after notice was provided--as appears to be the case--that negligence, or unreasonable carelessness, could make thg landlord liable for the loss of your personal property. A key issue, however, will be whether you had to throw the belongings away--that is, whether the average or reasonable person in your position would have done this. If so, then you could likely recover money if you sue; but if most people would not have done this (they would have considered the cleaning adequate, or that the belongings could be further cleaned and salvaged), then you would most likely not be able to recover. That is because the law requires you to minimize, not exacerbate or increase, your losses.

Also, bear in mind that if the landlord will not voluntarily reimburse you, you will have to sue to try to get your money, which has its own costs.


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