What can I do about unacceptable living conditions?

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What can I do about unacceptable living conditions?

I provided my sister with $20,000, as well as other monetary assistance prior to moving into her 4 bedroom house with my 2 children. This was to help with any bills and living costs. Now that I’ve moved in living conditions are unbearable. We are only allowed to shower once a week; meals once a day only if my kids and I can scrape together some money to purchase our food; and we can only use the bathroom to urinate. My son and I share a room and my daughter has to sleep on a couch with no support so she placed garbage bags full of clothes underneath. We even have to sneak to the kitchen for a glass of water.

Asked on July 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If your sister is violating the agreement you had with her, in terms of what you could do, use, etc., then she is in breach of the lease and you could sue her--possibly to recover money, possibly for a court order directing her to provide you what you had agreed to and paid her for.

If she is not allowing you "quiet enjoyment" of the space you are renting, she may be violating the covenant of quiet enjoyment; or if the conditions are unsafe, unhygienic, or unsanitary (you mention some bathroom restrictions), that could be a violation of the implied warranty of habitability. Both could provide grounds for a lawsuit.

If she knowingly lied to you to get you to give her money, that could be fraud, which not only could provide grounds to sue, but could even give rise to criminal liability in some circumstances.

There is reason to think you may have legal recourse. You should consult with an attorney. Good luck.


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