Can you sue a landlord if they prohibit you from using the entire unit that you rent?

UPDATED: May 21, 2012

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Can you sue a landlord if they prohibit you from using the entire unit that you rent?

The previous tenant to the unit I rent, left dog feces all over the deck. I moved in and as the snow melted it uncovered. I left my property mgmt. landlord know and it took over 45 days for him to get it clean. I had to go to his manager to get it cleaned. I would have had it cleaned myself but I have a military allotment and it would have taken months to switch the direct withdrawal amount of the rent and then switch it back. I have asked for 1/10th the amount of rent for 45 days which they refuse to pay. Can I sue in small claims for that and is the amount reasonable?

Asked on May 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If part of your rental premises was uninhabitable or unusable, then you could seek compensation (rent abatement) for the period of time you lived with the condition: you could seek recovery for both breach of lease (you're not getting what you paid for) and breach of the implied warranty of habitability (violation of the obligation that rental premises by fully fit for their intended purpose).

How much you could get depends on the impact. The rule is that the tenant is entitled to rent abatement equal to the difference between what he or she is paying, and what the premises is worth in its impaired condition. So the question is what would be a fair rent for an apartment like yours in your area without a usuable deck--that provides the baseline for determining the appropriate abatement.

You may bring this action in small claims court.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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