Can I sue my landlord for emotional distress?

My landlord ultimately rented out a room to a thief. Within 2 months that person entered my room (approximately 3 times) and stole most of the funds I’d placed in a cashbox. Should he be made accountable and reimburse me or can I sue?

Asked on July 23, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Liability depends on fault, and fault depends on either negligence (essentially, unreasonable carelessness) or intentional bad acts. IF the landlord knew or had definitive reasons he should have known that this tenant was a thief and/or was breaking into your apartment, then the landlord might be liable. However, if the landlord did not know, and there was no particular reason he should have, then the landlord would not be liable--the landlord did nothing wrong.

2) Note: you can sue the thief him- or herself, if you believe he or she would have funds making him or her worth suing.

3) Emotional distress is very rarely recoverable for--it takes very egregious behavior, more than mere negligence or breach of some duty. Even if you could sue the landlord, it is very unlikely you could recover for emotional distress--just for your actual out-of-pocket losses.

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