What is the landlord required to cover for flooding in the kitchen?

UPDATED: May 21, 2012

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What is the landlord required to cover for flooding in the kitchen?

My kitchen was flooded due to a block in the pipes caused by the tenant in the apartment above me. The landlord called out a plumber, however due to the severe flooding and water damage by kitchen has blocked off my an emergency restorative company until it has “dried” out. It has been a week now that I have not had any access to my kitchen. Am I able to deduct the costs of meals due to having to eat out from my rent?

Asked on May 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You likely are entitled to compensation under the law, but unfortunately, you cannot take it by withholding the cost of your meals from your rent. A landlord is liable for additional costs or other damages suffered by a tenant when the landlord cannot provide possession of the tenant's full rental unit and/or provides a rental that is not fit for its intended purpose--i.e. residence--such as through the lack of a kitchen. From what you write, your landlord may have breached or violated the lease (you're not getting what you paid for) and/or the implied warranty of habitability (the premises is not fit for  residence).

However, the only time a tenant may lawfully withhold a portion of rent is when the landlord has failed to make necessary repairs (ones required for habitability) after notice from the tenant and a chance or opportunity to make said repairs; when that occurs, the tenant may pay to have the repairs made, and deduct the cost thereof from the rent. Howeever, that is not the situation you describe--buying meals is not making repairs--and so you do not have access to this "repair and deduct" remedy.

Instead, to get to the money to which you may well be legally entitled, you would have to sue the landord to recover it (assuming he/she does not voluntarily give you compensation or a rent credit), which is likely not economically worthwhile. Unfortunately, not every time you are entitled to compensation is there an effective way to receive it.

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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