Hi, I have been renting space from a self-storage facility in New York City for about 18 months. Over the course of the 18 months, I have been back to the space 2x to add a few items. On the 2nd time I went back I noticed that there was a substantial leak from the ceiling which had severely damaged all of the items in my space. I brought the leak to the attention of the storage facility and they took photos and said they would call me, which they did after I proactively called them a few times. I went back to the storage spot again a week later to meet with the manager. It happened to be pouring outside. When we got to my unit, it was also pouring inside my space. At this point, I insisted that they move me to another spot, which they did. When I leased the space I did not take the insurance policy that was offered. So the contract limits the storage space's liability to me almost 100%. The space I was rented was one of the few in the building with a caged top. I would say 90% of the other units in this massive indoor complex (America's Largest self-storage facility) have sheet rocked ceilings or go to the ceiling, the unit I rented was caged in on top. At the time I rented it, I didn't think anything of it. I'd never rented a storage space before and was pretty naive (thus I didn't take the insurance, etc.). The thing is that I happened to take photos of the space when I rented it and now see that there was a sheet of platic covering the top of the cage. Based on the extent of the damage to my belongings, for example, a cherry wood bed frame is black to the core with mold and covered with worms, I maintain that the space leaked when they rented it to me. I.E. the owners were aware they had water problems. To date the storage company has offered me $1200 in cash, which is they say reimbursement for the first 18 months of rent) and a year of free rent. My damage is around $8500. I would like to ask them for $4000. Do you think I have a case? -- I have photos of the space (obviously) and video of the rain coming in...also my belongings are clearly damaged. I had a brand new file cabinet in the unit that is now completely rusted -- And can I do this without hiring an attorney?thanks!
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): New York
I have sent them a listing of the damaged items with evidence of the replacement value of the items. I haven't done anything else yet.
Hello,Thank you for using JA.A contract may disclaim or limit ordinary negligence, but not gross negligence. So if you have photos of the unit initially, and they just covered it with plastic because they knew it leaked rather than repairing the leak, I would opine that is gross negligence that could not be waived by the contract. The photos will show that they knew or should have known that there was a leak and by failing to repair, and renting it to you, that is gross negligence..With that said, you could file suit in Small Claims for Breach of Contract and for gross negligence since you contracted for a dry unit that didn't leak and it is highly likely they knew about the leak, but rented it anyway. The limit is $5,000 and you don't need an attorney. The clerk will have all the forms you need and you can recover your court costs in addition to up to $5K max..
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Thanks for your answer. In your experience, does the fact that they've made an offer help my case in anyway? And what would it take to prove that they knew there was a leak? thanks again.
Well, informally it would because they are kind of tacitly acknowledging that they are in the wrong. If they felt there was nothing wrong with what they did, they would just say "tough, we aren't paying anything". But that isn't really admissible as evidence to show any kind of guilt..As part of any case, you can request discovery and that they provide the name of the previous tenant and you could see if you could locate them and ask them if the unit leaked when they had it and if they notified management. If you can't locate the previous tenant, then it would have to come down to both your testimonies (of course they will say they didn't know) and the Circumstantial Evidence (why would there be plastic on top of it if not to shield the contents from water)..I would opine that a judge would find it odd that someone somehow placed plastic over the roof if there was not a leak and that by itself should have put the owner on notice of a leak (if they didn't actually place the plastic themselves)..
Please be aware that I am not entering into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. With that in mind, please do not post any specific information you do not want available for public viewing. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.
12 yrs practice, Realtor, Landlord 23+ yrs
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