If my basement floods every time it rains heavy, can I sue?

Last year both my son and I got infections from the flood water. Each flood, 3 total, has caused water damage to my boiler and furnace. The last time that my basement flooded I was without hot water for nearly 3 days. My furnace still does not work and the property manager has not repaired despite requesting service. Even though I have all items elevated 2 feet high my property still is getting damaged. I also incur additional costs for cleaning and sanitizing my basement, replacing property, etc. The property manager says I should place a claim against my renter’s insurance each time it floods.

Asked on September 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means the landlord is required to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  The repeated flooding and the infections you and your son contracted constitute health and safety issues which breach the implied warranty of habitability.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, tenant notifies the landlord as you did and landlord is required to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable time.  If landlord fails to make the repairs within a reasonable time, the tenant has the following remedies:  the tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant stays on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.

Another alternative would be to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

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