What legal recourse is there when your apartment floods due to bad pipes and landlord doesn’t clean the water and lets it just dry?

Over a month ago my apartment flooded due to pipes from the third floor; I’m on the first floor. The owners fixed the pipes but left the damage in my unit. They didn’t even clean up the water that was left standing on my carpet and floor. This is the second time in the 3 years that I’ve lived here (the first time was under different owners).

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A landlord does not insure his or her tenant's goods, so the landlord may not be responsible for damage to your personal property (e.g. furniture, electronics). He or she would be responsible for these only if the landlord was at fault in some way (ignored a leak while it got worse; didn't perform maintenance; performed repair improperly; etc.).

On the other hand, a landlord is obligated to maintain the premises in a safe, clean, hygienic, and habitable fashion. Not cleaning up/drying up the water, or repairing damaged walls or ceiling, could easily be a violation of the obligation. In that case, you may be due compensation (for living in impaired conditions); the landlord might also be liable for damage to any of your belongings caused by the failure to clean up the water, etc. in a timely fasion (e.g. if the standing water then damaged furniture).

Therefore, you may well have one or more (depending on landlord fault) causes of action, and it would be worthwhile for you to meet with an attorney to explore you options.  Good luck.


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