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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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renting a home, advised landlord on at least 2 occasions of

Customer Question

renting a home, advised landlord on at least 2 occasions of malfunctioning sump pump in bsmt (tripped reset switch frequently). Have to check it regularly (every 1-2 days) to make sure its working and pump is removing water from sump. Tonite, discovered that sump had tripped again, and bsmt is flooded and many belongings are soaked/possibly ruined. Is he responsible, since I advised him of situation and asked him on at least 2 previous occasions (documentable) to repair/replace/rectify it? THere are other issues with home that he has neglected and after much and frequent contact has started to deal with. I've only been here 4 months. Is the law on my side?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  socrateaser replied 5 years ago.

It's actually a close call.

 

Landlord is responsible for the value of the lost use of the basement in proportion to the rent. But, since you also knew that something was wrong, if you failed to move your belongings, then you may be found contributorially/comparatively negligent for your own property damage -- which would limit your right to recover.

 

You definitely have a case for property damage and partial constructive eviction. But, I have a feeling that the court will assign you with some of the liability for your injury.

 

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Again, I had seen water coming from nearby egress window and the sump overflow a bit, just about a couple feet diameter around the sump itself. I moved my belongings from the area to further out away from that area. We are here temporarily (6 mo. or so), and all belongings in bsmt are in boxes and stacked around so we don't have to live with the boxes in the regular living space. It is a finished bsmt, and part of it is playspace that my 2 yr old son doesn't use, but has some of his toys set up in. The balance of the space is storage of boxes and furniture waiting for the next move. I told him twice about the pump, and had been managing it (resetting the trip switch) myself. Now his wife says its never happened to them, never flooded, etc. THe other issues with the home they didn't disclose at all, so I'm not sure I trust her. At all. But now the flooding b/c of faulty switch, which I asked to be fixed, has damaged my property that I could not 'reasonably' be expected to move from the basement, had he fulfilled his responsibilities. I think that 'reasonable expectation' is what its all about: I did move my belongings away from it when I saw water and the pump malfx before, but I didn't move them out of the basement b/c it is literally all of our belongings except some clothes and dishes we use now. Does any of that matter?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 5 years ago.

Everything matters. I don't know if we're talking about small claims court damages here ($10,000 or less), or whether this is a regular civil suit. Regardless, the more credible your reasons for leaving your belongings in the basement, the better your chance for recovery.

 

The reason why I'm mentioning this issue, is so that if you sue, you won't be taken by surprise. You need to show that it was not reasonably foreseeable that your belongings would be damaged by leaving them where you did.

 

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thank you for your help. On an aside, I'm studying for my LSAT in June, and hope to go to law school starting next yr. I'm a bit nontraditional, neary 40, Stay-home dad, left nursing job nearly 2 yrs ago. But I have quite a bit experience (good experiences, that is) with the law and court proceedings, and a love of developing a case/argument. Thanks again for your help.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 5 years ago.

You're welcome. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX the best in your legal endeavors.

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