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Tenant and Landlord Dispute in Rental Apartments and Real estate Law

Elk Grove, CA |

I rented an apartment for about 10 years in a large apartment complex in a nice neighborhood. I initially signed a 6-months lease that turned to a monthly rental. I paid some $100,000 over ten years. I paid the rent on time each and every month and I never violated my rental agreement. Over the years it was one nightmare after another: rat infestation, leaky roof, vandalism to my car, etc. I ended up giving the rental office 30-day notice and I left. Moving is no fun and that is why I put up with these nightmares until I finally left. I contacted an attorney when the landlord of this multi-million apartment complex violated my rights of a peaceful enjoyment of my apartment. The attorney advised me to document all these violations by the millionaire landlord which I thoroughly did.

I did also notify the landlord and his management company of all these violations one time after another but to no avail. My health was affected by the mold that resulted from the leaky roof and from the rat infestation. Can I file a lawsuit? And if yes how much damages should I be seeking, half of what I paid in rent over the years or less or more? And is this considered a personal injury case? Can I find a contingent-fee attorney? And if I can not find an attorney on contingency-fee basis, how much money would I be expecting to pay in attorney's fees?

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Attorney answers 3


Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Please understand that every legal action has a time limit, commonly known as a "statute of limitation", and if the action is not brought within that time limit, your cause of action is lost. Vandalism to your car is generally not your landlord's responsibility, unless you can prove the landlord knew your specific car would have been vandalized but did not take any steps to protect your car. If some condition in the building has caused damage to your health, you need to find a personal injury attorney; for that you need to establish damage to your person, and the amount of rent you paid has no bearing on your claim. Be sure to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.


Yes, this would be considered (partially) a personal injury case. The value of your lawsuit depends upon the extent of your health issues. Do you have extensive medical records and bills relating to the mold issues? If not, it is unlikely you will find an attorney to take such a case on a contingency fee basis.

It is also highly unlikely you will be able to recover half of the rent you paid. Your greatest obstacle is the statute of limitations. When did you first discover you had health issues resulting from mold?

Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


Other counsel have raised appropriate issues. You may have statute of limitation issues, and you may have problems establishing your personal injury damages unless you have medical records supporting your claims.

You also are likely to have problems with credibility and "comparative fault." Personal injury claim recovery can be reduced to the extent a plaintiff is responsible for their own injuries. You indicate that you only had a six month lease. Yet you stayed another 9 1/2 years despite these problems. A judge or jury may find it hard to believe that the problems were so terrible when you continued to stay far beyond your original lease term. The judge or jury might also conclude that if you were incurring a respiratory or other problem during that time, your election to stay in the premises for another 9 1/2 years contributed to your health problem.

It seems unlikely you will find an attorney willing to take this on a contingency basis unless your medical problems are significant, documented, and arose in the later part of your occupancy.

Answers on this site are only intended to provide general information. No attorney-client relationship is intended. Specific legal advice is only provided after a personal meeting in which detailed information about a client's particular circumstances and goals are obtained.

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