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Hi, I'm Heather, an attorney with 15 years experience and I'd like to assist you for informational purposes.
What a difficult situation. The apartment sounds like a complete disaster. You should file a counterclaim with your answer to the eviction complaint. In the counterclaim, make sure you set out all of the details and lay out your expenses and the time line of your expenses. I think you have a good chance of having the judge waive the late fees, if you can show that you paid what you could, but keep in mind, if you are purchasing water to drink and cook with plus purchasing bleach - they probably do not add up to the amount of unpaid rent, and so that could be where your argument fails. Your situation sounds like a case of constructive eviction, which is when the apartment conditions are so bad that the tenant must break the lease and move out. But the clincher for constructive eviction is that you have to move out. If they were suing you for unpaid rent and you had moved out, you would probably have a good case for constructive eviction. When you don't move out, it is hard for the judge to find in your favor for constructive eviction, because if you stayed in the apartment, it is obviously good enough for you to be there and using the space.