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What do I do if my landlord won't fix the sewer problem? The landlord stated it is my fault and I need to fix, which is not true

Rock Island, IL |

I have called my landlord on numerous occasions to inform her of the issues with the sewer backing up into the basement. She has told me that it is my fault and that we need to hire someone to fix it. This has been an issue since we moved in and has recently started to flood the basement. The landlord said it was my fault for pouring grease down the drain, which I don't do. I need to know how to either fix the sewer since we pay good money to rent this home and don't have the finances to relocate to a new residence.

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Attorney answers 3


In most states your landlord would absolutely be responsible for sewage backing up. In fact, in my state, you would establish an escrow account and pay your rent to that account instead of the landlord until the matter was resolved.
(1) check your lease agreement--it may have provision about your landlord's responsibility to fix appliances, and malfunctioning plumbing. Her failure to respond to your notice of sewage in the basement may open her to liability (you may be able to sue her for any number of issues).
(2) Recommend you speak with an Illinois landlord tenant attorney immediately. There are many legal aid societies in Illinois, you can use the search option, or call your county bar association.

I am licensed only in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I try to provide sound guidance but I am not providing legal advice, you are urged to contact an attorney in your home state for specific guidance and legal advice. We do not have an attorney-client relationship and I am under no obligation to respond to subsequent emails or phone calls. I wish you the best of luck.


I agree with the above post. First, see what your lease says about repair and maintenance of the property. You should definitely consult with an Illinois attorney that works in the landlord - tenant area. You may have the option to make the repairs yourself and then withhold that amount from the monthly rent. If you do this, you should definitely let the landlord know what you are doing ahead of time. Another thing to consider is that you do not hove the money to relocate. If you do make the repairs and withhold that amount from the rent, your landlord may not be too happy with you. This may make the landlord unwilling to renew the lease with the current term expires. This does not change your current rights, but may something to consider. Good luck.

Jeffrey L. Whitcomb
Whitcomb Law Firm, Ltd.


If you have a written lease, you need to review it carefully, because I have seen suburban, single family home type leases which do make repairs the tenant's responsibility. Even if it did, if the problem existed when you first moved in, you have a good argument that the landlord should repair it. You may want to complain to your local village or city building department about the problem. Illinois law protects tenants from retaliation for making such complaints. Illinois also has a Residential Tenant's Right to Repair Act, which allows tenants to make small repairs (the lesser of $500 of 1/2 the monthly rent) and deduct the expenses from the next month's rent. You have to give written notice first. I would recommend speaking to an attorney or tenant's rights group before attempting to do so, however. The Metropolitan Tenants Organization of Chicago is a good resource for tenants.

The above response is not intended to create, nor does it create either an attorney-client relationship or an ongoing duty to respond to questions. It is intended to be solely the educated opinion of the author and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the inquiring person and additional or differing facts might change the response. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the state of Illinois. Responses are answers to general legal questions and the inquiring party should consult a local attorney for specific answers and advice.

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