What options do I have against my landlord for not repairing a sewage problem that has ruined my property and is a health hazard?

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What options do I have against my landlord for not repairing a sewage problem that has ruined my property and is a health hazard?

I live in a mobile home park. A couple years ago the landlord changed the sewer from septic system to pubic sewer. Last summer I noticed raw sewage coming from the old pipe under my mobile home. It is going on 6 months from when I first reported it and have reported it at least every month since without repair. It has now soaked into the supports for my deck, my sidewalk pavers, killed expensive landscape plants and loosened the skirting around my mobile home. Not to mention the smell from the sewage under and now in puddles around my place.

Asked on February 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means that the landlord has to comply with local and state housing codes.  The leaking sewage would be a violation of the housing code and would endanger health and safety. 

You could sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability. 

Your remedies would include having the repairs made and deducting the cost from the rent or another option would be to withhold rent and defend against eviction or if you decide to move, you could terminate your obligation to pay rent for the remainder of the term of the lease.

That last option I mentioned of moving would be impractical if you own the mobile home; however, if you are just renting the mobile home, then that would be a viable option.

If you own the mobile home, your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit for breach of the implied warranty of habitability) would be the cost of repairs.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages which means that you would not be able to select the most expensive company you can find to make the repairs, but would need to select a company whose fees are comparable to other such companies in the area.  If you don't mitigate damages, your damages will be reduced accordingly.


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