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Hi, My landlord has not fixed or done anything to our house we are renting after hurricane sandy. can he sue us for rent money?

Copiague, NY |

Our appliances were ruined. the mold was untreated, our toilet bowl was laying on the floor, he did come and cut sheet rock, but left it exposed, and wet insulation in the wall for us to breathe. he said he does not know when he can fix it due to him receiving insurance money from his insurance company. we then told him we would be moving out. in November after we returned back and saw all the damage. he said okay, being we were on a month to month lease. we left moved out by Dec 31 to move into our place january1st. he then sends us information we need pay back rent for those months, and he is not givng us back our security.

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Attorney answers 4


He can sue you but he will probably not be successful. First, as a month to month tenant once you moved out the tenancy ended and he can not seek rent for any month after you moved and returned possession to him. Second, you would have a defense to any action for rent for the term you were there of constructive eviction in that the storm and subsequent condition of the house rendered it uninhabitable. Hopefully, you have some evidence of the condition of the home after the storm such as photos of the open walls and exposed insulation as well as the mold and damaged appliances in the event he brings an action against you. If not you would need a witness who could testify as to the condition of the home. Finally, you could sue him in small claims court for the return of your security deposit.

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You should sue for the back security. He'll countersue for the unpaid rent, but since the place was no rentable and you were on a month to month, you'll likely be successful. If you lived there, even in an unlivable condition for anytime, then you owe rent for that time.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -


Dear can he sues us for rent money?

The landlord has not sued you. If you are sued you should be able to present credible evidence that the landlord breached the warranty of habitability (New York Real Property Law Section 235 -b) and that by reason of the damage to the home (even if you stayed in the home) the rental value was diminished to nothing.

You should be entitled to recover your security deposit. The lease would likely only allow for retention of the security deposit if you left the house with damage beyond ordinary wear and tear. The burden of proof is on the landlord, and it would seem unlikely, with the house destroyed by the storm, that the landlord could prevail.

So hire a lawyer and go for it.

Good luck.

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.


Not only is it warrant of habitability but it is also constructive eviction. However, did you live there during November? December? You indicated that you "moved out" December 31 This may make you liable for at least some rent for November and December. If you did stay there it will not be a slam dunk and you may not get back your security deposit.