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Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 5301
Experience:  Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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On July 9, 2017, there was an issue with the air

Customer Question

On July 9, 2017, there was an issue with the air conditioning unit leaked in the apartment complex, Cypress Gardens in Hoover, AL, that caused water damage in the hallway and the bedroom near the hallway of the apartment my family and I reside. The carpet was soaked in the first bedroom, hallway and living room around the air conditioning unit. There were damages done to my children's furniture in the bedroom. I immediately called maintenance about the problem the same day. The maintenance guy came immediately the same day I called on July 9th in the morning and stated that the carpet would need to be cut out and replaced. So I responded and stated to him that my family and I will be gone the entire week Mobile, AL (MEGA Conference for Teachers). When we returned on July 14th that evening, the carpet still had not been changed and there was a horrible smell in the apartment from the dampness of the carpet and stuffy. The manager was informed about the situation. Another maintenance guy came to the apartment because we reported another leakage problem in the master bedroom from the hot water heater in the closest. The carpet in front of the closest was soaked as well. That is when the maintenance guy stated that the carpet in the whole apartment needed to be cleaned.
Once again, I went to the manager to tell him about my children’s furniture being damaged and what are they going to do about it. He told me that it was not their responsibility but my insurance company’s (State Farm) responsibility to cover the damages done to the furniture. Weeks went by, no cleaned carpet, and then we experienced flooding in the apartment on July 26th from patio in the kitchen to the living room, hallway and the same bedroom. During this time, we were on our way out of town again for a family reunion Akron, Ohio) when this flooding occurred. On our return home Monday, July 31st that morning at 1:45 a.m., they had stripped the carpet in the living room, a portion of the hallway and stripped the kitchen and hall bathroom floors. Nothing has been done as of today, August 17th. We have been living in this condition, which I felt that we should have been placed somewhere else until the apartment was in a condition where we could come back to its completion. Our furniture was placed in all areas of the apt. Anyway, I have pictures and videos of the premises.When I did speak with the manager about the furniture again on Monday, August 15th, I asked if he could deduct a fair amount off the rent, the price of the furniture, he didn't say anything. Therefore, I did not pay the rent for this month because the apartment is still in a shamble. I am so hurt because this could have been handled in better manner than this.I have rental insurance with State Farm. When I contacted the agent of State Farm, Matt Benson, he stated that since the damages of the furniture were ruined from the apartment complex air conditioning system, then the apartment complex is responsible. When I relayed the message back to the manager, he still persisted that they are not responsible for damages to my personal property. So my insurance agent contacted the manager on several occasions after I spoke with him and left several messages with no response from any calls. On August 15th, I met with the manager again and discussed my concerns about the damaged furniture and the rent. He still said that they are not responsible and that he was turning in the paperwork for the eviction process to begin. I informed Matt about what the manager said and he decided to contact the manager again. When he called them on August 16th to speak with the manager and to explain the rental insurance policy and laws, the manager got belligerent with Matt Benson. I was informed to call the management office of Cypress Gardens.Since August 24th, the air conditioning unit has not been working. I immediately went to Wal-Mart and bought 3 fans and I have the receipt. When I
JA: Of course. The best way to reach them is by emailing***@******.*** Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Alabama
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: Yes
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only. Additionally, most people believe a phone call is the easiest and most efficient way to handle problems. Accordingly, you will receive an automatic phone call request. If you would like a phone call, please click “Accept” when prompted.

Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

I appreciate your saint-like patience. This to me sounds like a classic case of negligence on behalf of the apartment complex because their air conditioning unit leaked, causing you damage. Negligence simply means that there was a duty that the other party owed and they breached that duty in some way. What is most important is that it is proven that the defendant breached their duty of care because that is what mostly determines whether there is a cause of action. Basically, the question is, “Did the defendant’s actions fall below the standard of care for a reasonable person in a similar situation?” Better stated, "Did the actions of the complex fall below the standard of care for a reasonable complex in a similar situation." If the answer to that question is yes, then there is negligence and you are entitled to damages. Damages can be difficult to calculate, but if you click here you can use a calculator help you understand.

This appears to be a violation of the implied warranty (promise) of habitability. All residential leases and rental agreements contain an implied warranty of habitability. Under the "implied warranty of habitability," the landlord is legally responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the rental unit's habitability. That is, the landlord must repair substantial defects in the rental unit and substantial failures to comply with state and local building and health codes. However, the landlord is generally not responsible under the implied warranty of habitability for repairing damages that were caused by the tenant or the tenant's family, guests, or pets. The usual measure of damages is either 1) a cancellation of the lease agreement; 2) a withholding of the rent until the item is repaired; or 3) you repair the matter yourself and request reimbursement.

You may want to consider just writing a formal demand letter stating that their negligence is what is causing the issue here. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for a demand letter (click here). It only costs $10 and it is way cheaper than litigation.