Can we sue our landlord if our belongings were damaged due to our landlord’s negligence in making necessary repairs?

UPDATED: Oct 16, 2011

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Can we sue our landlord if our belongings were damaged due to our landlord’s negligence in making necessary repairs?

My husband and I rent an apartment; we just moved here a month ago. About a week later I noticed small droplets of water coming from the closet doorway where the water heater is. I called maintenance and reported it. No one ever called me back. The water stopped for a few days and then started again, so again I tried to call maintenance, and no one called me back again. Last night we came home from work and our entire apartment is flooded with water. Our area rug is damaged, a television, laptop, and an X-box. There was water leaking through the walls, the closets, the light in our kitchen, and the ceiling. We called it in immediately stating it was an emergency and even called the emergency 24 hour maintenance line multiple times leaving multiple messages and no one called us. We cleaned up the water and decided to go ask the woman upstairs if she had maybe a toilet leaking or something. She said that earlier that day her hot water heater busted and that’s where all the water was coming from and that maintenance knew about it but couldn’t do anything until Monday. No one ever called us and my husband and I have our cell and work numbers listed in the paperwork from the lease. Tonight we came home from work to an apartment flooded with water. After 5 more messages left to the maintenance department they finally call us back and are acting as if this is no big deal. We want to sue them; what can we do? We have pictures of the flooding and even our names on a report at with the fire department who came to look at everything since the water was coming from the light and circuit breaker box as well.

Asked on October 16, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your landlord was put on notice about potential problems with the unit you are renting concerning water intrusion and the landlord or his or her maintenance department delayed in coming to your unit for repairs where the problem increased resulting in damages to you property within, there is potential liability that your landlord may very well be responsible for.

A landlord owes a duty to his or her tenant to provide safe and habitable premises and if he or she is put on notice of a problem with the rental and fails to respond in a prompt manner to correct the problem, and as a result damages occur to a tenant's personal property, the landlord is responsible.

Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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