What to do if we need to sue our landlord for knowingly misrepresenting a space?

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What to do if we need to sue our landlord for knowingly misrepresenting a space?

They represented the space to be clean and viable for use with the full knowledge that the underground is contaminated along with vapor intrusion. This as a result of improper disposal of PCE, the chemical used in dry cleaning. How do we get legal advice to proceed because we cannot afford an attorney to represent us?

Asked on June 18, 2013 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you can show, preferrably by both documentary evidence and testimony, 1) the representations the landlord made, and 2) that the landlord knew, or reasonably should have known (i.e. there is no credible way the landlord would not have known) of the contamination at the time he/she made the representations, then you may have a case for fraud. If fraud were committed, you may be able  to do one or more of the following: i) rescind the lease--that is, undo the lease and get out of it; ii) sue for monetary compensation or damages, such as, for example, the cost to clean up the contamination, if it can be cleaned, or the cost to move out, if the space is not habitable. Also, regardless of any represenations or misrepresentations, if the space is not safely habitable, you would likely have grounds to terminante the lease and/or seek monetary compensation for a violation of the "implied warranty of habitabilty."

If you are a residential tenant and cannot afford an attorney to help you, try contacting Legal Services--they often help residential tenants who cannot afford an attorney. If you are a commercial tenant, I am not aware of any resources to provide you free legal assistance, though you could try seeking if any lawyers will take the case on contingency (i.e. they only get paid if they win money for you).


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