If I rented a property that had a sewer backup causing health problems, can I get my money back and a new place to stay until fixed?

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If I rented a property that had a sewer backup causing health problems, can I get my money back and a new place to stay until fixed?

We have had a hospital and doctor visit and are still experiencing health problems because of the methane we are breathing. The landlord doesn’t want to fix because supposedly they are putting in central next year. It is backing up in sinks and toilets and he wants us to run a hose from the washer onto ground. We are having stomach problems, severe diarrhea, skin irritations and we have 2 children. Could we also sue since he knew about it before we moved in?

Asked on August 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It would be worthwhile speaking with an attorney--you may have a cause of action. First, landlords are obligated by what's called the implied warranty of habitability to provide rental premises that are fit for their intended purposes--i.e. safe and healthy to live in. The conditions you describe seem as if they would violate it. Second, if the landlord knew of the problem before you rented but did not disclose it, he may have committed fraud--a material misrepresentation, made to induce you to enter into the transaction--by not disclosing them. Either of these theories could potentially give you grounds to recover monetary compensation and/or break the lease and move without penalty.


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