Can I sue my landlord company for refusing to clean up raw sewage in the basement of my townhome apartment?

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Can I sue my landlord company for refusing to clean up raw sewage in the basement of my townhome apartment?

My landlord sent maintenance men to fix the problem. Well they came and sucked up the sewage that was in there with a wet vac and dumped the first load out in my yard. I didn’t think u could do that cause of it being a bio-hazard plus I have 2 dogs. Anyways they dumped the rest in my sump pump. They fiddled around down there for an hour or so and finally told me they have to call someone else to fix it. So they gave me a key to another apartment to use water. Meanwhile sewage was still filling in my basement even when I wasn’t using water. The other company came and said they couldn’t fix it that it was a city problem. So I had to let sewage sit in my basement all weekend. The city came and cleaned the pipes but not the sewage siting in the basement. Landlord said it was my responsibility to clean it up. Is that right? I couldn’t help what happened and that sewage was shared with more than just my place.

Asked on November 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Sounds like you need to move and quickly. This is a bio hazard and it is not your responsibility. You need to contact your state's consumer protection agency that handles such matters and contact them immediately. In the interim, review your lease and see the provisions for informing your landlord of what his breach is or could be and how you must inform him to fix the breach. In most states, you can front fund the clean up and then deduct from your rent but this doesn't appear to be a simple problem of say an appliance, so your best bet is attempt to mitigate your damages and either move and sue for moving expenses and your entire security back based on your landlord's breach or call the local consumer protection agency to help sort this matter out as soon as possible. If you need to contact your state or federal politician, do so. Use what you can, even the media, to your advantage.


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