What do I have to do to get a place condemned?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What do I have to do to get a place condemned?

Currently my relative brother is renting a place with a roommate and the water heater is out, the stove/oven is out, the roof leaks, the floor is rotting through, there are electrical issues, the A/C neither heats nor cools, pipes allow sewage to leak under the home, it is infested with both roaches and bed bugs, windows are broken, the porches are not anchored, mold and mildew, there is insulation hanging from the underside of the place, the underpinning is missing in spots; the list goes on and on. My brother fell through the floor and has had to have neck surgery, and faces the possibility of having to have surgery on his left shoulder too. He is disabled and cannot afford move and we don’t have room for him where we are. How do we get the place condemned and make the landlord pay for a new place for them to live?

Asked on December 6, 2017 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Why do you assume that the landlord would have to pay for a new place for your brother and roommate to live? When a building is condemned--when it becomes legally impermissible to live there or otherwise occupy the space--the lease is typically voided due to impossibility or illegality: i.e. landlord will have no further obligation to the tenants.
What your brother should do is sue the landlord: he should sue for his injuries (out of pocket medical costs; "pain and suffering") and also sue for part (possibly a large part) of his rent back, for violations of the "implied warranty of habitability"--that is violation of the obligation placed by law on all landlords that they only rent out space which is fit for use and occupancy. If space is not habitable, then the tenant may be entitled to a rent rebate proportionate to the problems with the space, as well as for a rent reduction going forward until the problems are corrected. Your brother may also be entitled to withhold rent. Based on what you write, your brother should contact a lawyer about suing his landlord.

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