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The landlord has a duty to provide a safe and habitable place for you to live. Their failure to do so (telling you to run your AC 24/7 is insufficient) is an inadequate fix. Unfortunately, North Carolina's statutes are not as tenant friendly as some other states, but you can get some relief in the form of a "rent abatement" from the small claims court. This will force the landlord to give you a reduction in rent equal to the fair value of rent as it is worth in its current state as opposed to what it was supposed to be at the time you rented it. Given the significant damage, that value may be very low.
For more information on the specific procedures and statutes in North Carolina, you can review this pamphlet here: http://www.ncdoj.com/files/consumer/landlord-tenant-booklet.aspx
Hi Bill. What should I do next? Do I need an attorney? Just file something with small claims? I feel like I'm constantly loosing here.
Also, will I get reimbursed for the months past that I have paid full rent, since they have been aware of the conditions here?
Small claims would be the best place to get a judicial (final) resolution on the issue as to whether or not this matter falls below the level of habitability or not. You have the option of suing both the landlord and the insurance company in the same lawsuit, but generally the suit against the landlord for "rent abatement" is a shortened procedure so it may make more sense to file the claims separately.
Rent abatement only goes forward (you can only get the reduction prospectively).
This of course is just the rent - it does not deal with the damages to your property or to your health if you have medical testimony regarding physical illness caused by this living situation (I do hope this is not the case, but if it is true, I would suggest retaining an a personal injury attorney to assist you).
Thanks. No personal injuries, just trapped in a nightmare. I am trying to get out of my lease. Will the courts grant that, do you think?
They may make it so untenable to the landlord (find that the real rental value of the property in its current condition is so low that it is not worth it to rent - at least to you - and the landlord will release you from the lease agreement).