Landlords and tenants do not always see eye to eye. When issues fester, they may not be an easy fix. If you are considering when you can sue your landlord, it is vital to understand why you may be able to sue and if it is your best option. Suing your landlord may be the motivation they needed to settle things outside of court, help you receive the money you are owed, or retain your ability to stay in your apartment. However, keep in mind that you could lose, lawsuits are very costly, and the landlord could countersue. Just because suing is an option does not necessarily mean that you should do it.
There are many factors that you should consider first. Making the decision should be based on the reason you are suing. Also, state rules differ regarding when and how you can file a lawsuit. Check with the small claims court in your area to determine requirements. First and foremost, it is in your best interest to send a demand letter to your landlord before actually filing a lawsuit, which should be very clear what you are seeking. Typically, it is reasonable to file a lawsuit against your landlord for the following reasons.
Illegally Withholding Security Deposit
There are state laws in place governing the reasons a landlord can take deductions from the security deposit. If a landlord has made a deduction for illegal reasons or which were not agreed upon in the lease agreement, you can take your landlord to court. It is also reasonable to sue if a landlord is withholding your deposit, falsely stating that you violated lease terms.
Not Complying with State Security Deposit Laws
You are likely permitted to sue your landlord if they do not comply with all the security deposit rules, such as charging more beyond the legal state maximum, not telling you where the deposit is being held, or not including a breakdown of the deductions taken.
If your landlord fails to comply with the Federal Fair Housing Act, you have every right to file a complaint with HUD, which will then investigate the case, and if they conclude that the landlord has committed housing discrimination, you can proceed with legal action.
Illegal Clauses in Lease Agreement
A landlord cannot include illegal terms in your lease. For instance, under the Federal Fair Housing Act, service animals are allowed. Therefore, a landlord cannot refuse to allow service animals or include a clause stating the landlord has the right to make the tenant move out of the property at any given time.
Withholding Repair Reimbursement
If a landlord refuses to handle repairs that affect health and safety or does not take care of them in a reasonable time frame, which leads you to pay someone else to perform the repair, you can sue your landlord to cover those expenses.
If your landlord refuses to make repairs that affect your health and safety, you should sue. These instances may include not having running water, lack of heat in the winter, a mold issue, or lead paint hazard. In this case, before suing, you may want to notify the landlord that you will withhold rent or move out if they do not fix the issue.
Not Disclosing Serious Health Hazards
Landlords are legally required to disclose any known, existing lead paint hazards or mold issues at the property. If this information is withheld from you, you can sue as these could cause long-term health problems.
Illegally Entering the Property
Landlords must provide reasonable notice to enter the rented property and can only do so for specific reasons. If entering laws are violated, you can sue them to only enter under certain conditions and be awarded damages.
Injury at the Rental Property
If landlord neglect has led to an injury, you may be able to sue, such as failing to provide a banister in the stairwell, and you slip and fall. However, you do not have a valid case if the injury is due to your own neglect, such as a fall because you do not clean.
Filing an Illegal Eviction
If your landlord tries to evict you under unfair terms, you can counter sue.
About Sine Insurance
At Sine Insurance Group, we are dedicated to providing you with custom-tailored insurance policies to protect your assets. Our comprehensive packages have been expertly crafted to serve St. Louis and the surrounding areas for the past 25 years. For more information about our products, contact us today at (855) 700-0889.