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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 38438
Experience:  Attorney and Real Estate broker -- Retired (mostly)
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A pipe was clogged in the home Im leasing and there was significant

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A pipe was clogged in the home I'm leasing and there was significant damage. The floors and basement ceiling need to be repaired due to the sewage that spilled in the home. Several of my personal items were damaged. My husband, child and I have been living in a hotel for the past 3 weeks and the repairs have not yet even started. They are scheduled to start next week. The floors were demolished and the mold protection was sprayed in the home. The landlord anticipates another 3 weeks until the work is done and asked us not to return to the home. My questions: I was told that because the floors have been torn up and sprayed - there is not reason we should not be allowed to return to the home while the floors are being repaired. Can he keep us out of the home legally? He also is blaming us for the pipe damage and has decided that he wants a property manager to do a monthly inspection of the home that I feel is harrassment. Can he do that? Additionally my one year has drawn on a wall with crayon ( removable) and has a few stains on the carpet (that will clearly come out). Because of this he claims we are keeping the home in poor condition and using that to further justify his reason for a monthly inspection. Is this lawful when it is not in the lease? Can his property manager enter the home we are leasing without our permission?

Before I answer, can you tell me how the damage occurred?

Thanks in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have no idea how the pipe was clogged. The plumbers said they didn't find anything that should have caused the blockage. They thought maybe it was tree roots and said they saw what may have been baby wipes or q-tips as well. We clearly do not flush baby wipes or q-tips down the toilet. Anyway, the pipe blockage caused sewage to back up through the kitchen toilet and up through the kitchen sink. The water damaged all of the 1st level floors and part of the basement ceiling caved in.
What you are describing is a constructive eviction. Unless there is credible evidence that you caused the damage, then the damage is the landlord's problem, and if it caused you to have to relocated, then you are constructively evicted -- which means you can terminate the lease and find new housing. If the landlord fails to return your deposit, you can sue to recover.

Root damage is not really the landlord's fault, but it's not your fault, either -- because no one knows it's happened until it's too late. Regardless, you cannot be expected to rent a property in which you cannot reside.

You can send the landlord a letter stating that you are terminating the lease for constructive eviction, effective immediately, and if the landlord fails to return your security deposit within 60 days, then you file suit in small claims court to get the deposit returned. Colo. Rev. Stat. 38-12-103(1).

Hope this helps.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Interesting...If we decide to stay after the repairs are done, can he have a property manager visit the property on a monthly basis to inspect it? And is the property manager able to enter the property while we are not present?

If it's part of your original lease agreement, then a monthly inspection is lawful, as is entry without your presence. Otherwise, it's trespassing, and you can have the property manager arrested by the sheriff/police, if he/she attempts to gain access without your consent.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have another question. The damage is currently being repaired. The landlord is being very slow about repairing the damages. We have been out of the house for almost 2 months now. As of right now, carpets and new flooring needs to be layed down. Nothing serious. This is work that can be done while we are living in the house - but the landlord does not want us to return to the home until all of the work is completed and he approves it. Can he legally keep us out of the house until he decides he wants us to return while we are incurring hotel expenses? Or can we move back in while they are finishing the remaining repair work?

Until the work is complete, the landlord can reasonably claim that the property is unfit for occupancy, and the local building inspector would probably support this position. So, I think the landlord would win this round.


Again, at some point, the landlord's delay becomes a constructive eviction -- and you can simply terminate the lease and move elsewhere. When that moment arrives is something only you can decide.

Hope this helps.

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