A water pipe broke and flooded my apartment. The landlord refused to put my family and I up in a hotel and we have been staying with family and are technically homeless. What can be done regarding him denying us a safe place to live. We have a 19 month old daughter
Health Care Lawyer
No, I do not believe they have an obligation to do so, unless there is some deliberate neglect. However, I would suggest asking, they may have some sort of insurance.
I am licensed in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and therefore any discussion of issues related to other states must considered within that context. In addition, my comments are not intended to create a legal representation but merely to respond to the limited facts presented by the question. Any opinion herein is not meant as a precise statement of legal rights or as a recommendation of any particular course of action. A more complete legal review can be obtained through local counsel.
I am not licensed in Pennsylvania and this advice is based on general principals of law rather than any state specific statutes or local court precedent. You should look first to your own renter's insurance for coverage of unexpected costs, such as temporary housing due to flooding, fire or other hazard. If you elected to be self insured for these risks then you should be prepared to pay these costs of housing. You may have a case for damages due to constructive eviction or uninhabitable conditions. You must the must show that:
the uninhabitable conditions (substantial interferences) were a result of the landlord's actions (not the actions of some third party) and you vacated the premises in a reasonable time. A tenant who suffers from a constructive eviction can claim all of the legal remedies available to a tenant who was actually told to leave. In some states the tenant must provide written notice to the landlord to exercise their rights. Some state statutes may limit the reasons for which a tenant may claim constructive eviction or allow the landlord a reasonable time to remedy. You also need to be aware of your obligation to mitigate damages. Accordingly, you can't rent a bigger or fancier place than you were renting and expect to recover those funds. You may also have rights to withhold rent during the time the place is uninhabitable. You should consult a local attorney to understand your rights and obligations as a tenant.