If my apartment complex has not provided me with hot water for a week and now my child is getting sick, can I sue them for unsanitary conditions?

UPDATED: Sep 8, 2012

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If my apartment complex has not provided me with hot water for a week and now my child is getting sick, can I sue them for unsanitary conditions?

Asked on September 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Assuming you have provided the complex with notice that you do not have hot water, then you may be able to sue them; however, the amount you can recover may be limited. When a rental unit has something impairing its habitability--like a lack of hot water--tenants may be entitled to a rent abatement, or pro rata rent reduction, for  the time they live with the impaired condition. This means that they get back some percentage of their rent for a period of time. For example, since people can live without hot water, say that lack of hot water would entitle you to a 60% reduction in rent for the time you lack hot water--it would almost certainly not entitle you toa  100% reduction. Say your rent is $1,200 per month, or approximately $300 per week. You would, in this example, potentially recover up to 60% of $300 for each week you've been  without hot water, or $180.

Note that the above is just by of example: a court could find you entitled to a greater or lesser percentage abatement. More significantly, though, a court could also order the landlord to take action to cure or correct the problem, if the landlord is unwilling to do so him/herself. You should speak wiith a landlord-tenant attorney about your situation; one option, if you can't afford a lawyer, is to contact Legal Services, since they provide legal assistance to people who cannot afford an attorney. Good luck.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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