Renting a home has a lot of benefits. You don’t have to deal with maintenance and repairs, property taxes, and a high mortgage payment.
More people are choosing to rent rather than buy a home because it can be more cost-effective.
Renting isn’t always a rosy situation. You may have noisy neighbors, or you find that your landlord is more like a slumlord.
In some cases, you may find several reasons to sue your landlord. It’s not the most ideal situation, but it may be necessary to protect yourself.
Read on to learn why and how you can sue your landlord.
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1. They Don’t Make Repairs
A landlord has a responsibility to maintain your home and make sure that it’s habitable. What makes a home habitable or not is up for debate.
Legally, there isn’t a lot of clarity around this. There are events like flooding or storm damage that could make it uninhabitable.
A good guideline to follow is whether or not a repair or remediation would pose a health and safety risk. For example, if there’s mold in your home, it could cause a variety of health issues. A landlord that doesn’t deal with the issue could be sued.
2. A Landlord Takes Illegal Action to Evict You
Landlords may try to find a reason to evict you from an apartment before your lease is up. This is common in rental markets where demand is high.
What they do is evict tenants for no cause, and turn around and rent the same unit for much more money.
It’s important to know the eviction laws in your city and state. In most places, that kind of activity is illegal.
Landlords may resort to other methods of evicting you from your apartment. For example, if you haven’t paid your rent, it’s a lengthy process to legally evict you from your home. Landlords may turn off the utilities or enter your apartment and take your personal belongings to recover their costs.
These things are very illegal and good reasons to take your landlord to court over the matter.
If you were evicted, it could appear on your credit report. Suing your landlord and winning in court could help you restore your credit.
3. Withholding the Security Deposit
When you move out of the home, it’s common to do a final walkthrough with the property manager or landlord.
They will have documented the condition of the unit when you moved in. Together, you’ll document the condition of the unit moving out.
If there’s major damage, the costs will be deducted from your security deposit. Your lease may state that the landlord will charge a cleaning fee when you move out. That will also be deducted from the deposit.
The smart way to prevent this is to take pictures of the unit before you move anything in. You can compare the before and after images to fight any bogus charges against you.
There are laws that require landlords to return the security deposit within a certain amount of time. This will vary by state. If a landlord doesn’t return your deposit and doesn’t provide any explanation as to why you have the right to sue.
If there are illegitimate charges about the condition of the unit, you can fight them and sue the landlord for the full deposit.
4. Housing Discrimination
Landlords cannot discriminate against a person on the basis of religion, race, color, disability, sex, and national origin. That is part of the Federal Fair Housing Act.
States also have their own laws with additional classes of people, such as discriminating against people with different types of income sources.
It’s not fully clear if the Federal Fair Housing Act covers sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class. The law doesn’t explicitly state sexual orientation, but a federal judge ruled in 2017 that LGBT couples are protected.
Some states do have laws that mention protections for the LGBT community.
5. Failure to Reimburse for Repair Expenses
In an emergency situation, you may have to front the costs of a repair, expecting your landlord to reimburse you or deduct that amount from your next month’s rent.
If a landlord doesn’t reimburse you, you can sue.
You can protect yourself by getting everything documented before you front the payment. Get the agreement in writing.
Is Suing the Landlord the Best Option?
You may find yourself going to court and in a tricky situation. In some cases, a landlord may decide to countersue or retaliate against you.
You have to time your suit just right. For example, you’d be better off suing your landlord when you moved out of the dwelling. This is a good move in cases where you are suing to recover your security deposit or for injury expenses.
However, if you’re suing because the unit has become uninhabitable, you may just have to stay until it’s resolved. In that case, you want to have a good attorney by your side to protect your rights.
One other thing to consider is the statute of limitations. That’s the amount of time that you have from when the incident took place to file a lawsuit.
Before you sue, you want to make sure that you exhausted all other options. Sending written letters and notifications can be a good start.
You want to document the escalation of the problem. That way, you can show the judge that you made every reasonable attempt to resolve the problem before taking the landlord to court.
There Are Legitimate Reasons to Sue Your Landlord
When you first move into a new home, it’s an exciting time. It’s a new chapter or an opportunity to start over.
That can quickly erode into a nightmare scenario if you have reasons to sue your landlord. There are real scenarios in which this is possible. Your landlord may try to evict you using ways that are illegal hoping that you won’t know landlord-tenant law.
They may withhold your security deposit or fail to make repairs. These instances are all reasons to file a lawsuit. At that point, you want to consult with someone who knows the landlord-tenant laws in your area and document everything.
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Pearl M. Kasirye is a writer at Kemistri.co, editor, and researcher who spends most of her time reading. When she isn’t reading or working, she can be found sitting on her balcony writing her own novels or traveling.