Can I take my landlord to court and sue them for the possessions that I lost due to the cockroach infestation?

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Can I take my landlord to court and sue them for the possessions that I lost due to the cockroach infestation?

I lived with this problem for 5 months hoping they would fix it but they did not. When I moved out we could not take any of our belongings because there were roaches in the beds, dressers, TVs, kitchen appliances, couches. This bill is tallied at over 20K and I cannot find an attorney to take my case.

Asked on October 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You probably cannot recover for these costs: that's because while a landlord could be liable for losses caused by its failure to remedy a bad pest infestation after notice of the problem and an opportunity to do so, you have an obligation to mitigate, or minimize losses. That means that rather than throw out $20,000 of belongings, including electronics, you should have done one or both of the following: brought in your own exterminator(s); or had the items professional cleaned after moving out. If you had done this, you probably could have recovered the extermination and/or cleaning cost, which might have been, say, $500 to $2,000. But the law does not let you take a course of action which massively increases your loss, when there are less costly alternatives, then sue for the full amount based on the actions you decided to take.


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