Can I sue my landlord for the return of rents paid, personal damages and medical costs resulting from their negligence in fulfilling the terms of our lease?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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Can I sue my landlord for the return of rents paid, personal damages and medical costs resulting from their negligence in fulfilling the terms of our lease?

I contend that from the start of the pre-leasing process 10 months ago until now, my landlord falsely represented the property, failed to respond to maintenance requests, ignored repeated maintenance requests, contracted sub-standard repairs which did not fix the problems, which then lead to the mold infesting my living room and making me ill. Then finally they refused to give a rental reference preventing me from leasing another unit in a highly competitive market. The wait list for the unit I was just denied from is now 2 years long and the building hasn’t even opened yet.

Asked on October 5, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Forget about not getting the rental reference a landlord has no obligation or duty to provide a reference, and so cannot be liable for failing to give you  one.
If, despite being told of maintenance issues which could lead to mold, the landlord did not correct the situation, then you may be able to sue to get partial rent back, due to violaton of the implied warranty of habitability. You won't get full rent back, since you lived there courts never, in my experience, give you all your rent back when you were able to and did live there. Probably somewhere between 25% and 50%, for the period of time you lived with severe mold, is appropriate, but it's hard to say for sure there are not hard and fast or objective rules for how much rent abatement is appropriate, and te determination is highly subjective.
IF you can prove that the mold made you sick--which will involve medical expert testimony to that effect--then you may be able to recover medical costs and/or pain and suffering for the illness, but this can be hard to do it is not easy to convince a court that it was this mold, and not some other condition. leading to the problems.

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