Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 11:57 PM   #1
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Default Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation? This is our 2nd infestation. The first was after experiencing a seriously foul smell. We let the landlord know we thought there might be a dead animal under the house. She called rodent control and they found there was a dead rat in the wall somewhere. They were unable to remove it due to damage that would have caused to the house. They set traps to catch additional rodents, sealed off obvious entry points and also recommended trimming the tree branches which touched the roof. The trees were never trimmed as the landlord said that rats will find a way in regardless of trimming any branches. We endured 4 1/2 months of absolute stench and could only use 1/2 of the house. We couldn't use our heat as that just circulated the smell even more. She said there was nothing we could do but wait it out. We run a business from our home, with the landlords knowledge and also have a child in school, so moving wasn't an option.

Here we are 3 years later and more rats. Luckily so far not the smell of a dead one. The landlord has sent out rat control again and they've set traps and again have suggested trimming the trees. Both incidents have left all of our stored items in the attic completely destroyed. Maybe I was stupid to store anything up there again after the first round which ruined ALL of my Christmas decorations and more but I have no where else to store items unless I rent a storage unit. This time my ski suit and boots are wrecked = 900.00 as well as other less expensive items. The rodent inspector said I need to remove my items from the attic but I need to wear a mask when doing so. He has also recommended that due to excessive rat feces and urine stains that the attic needs to be cleaned and the insulation repaired by a professional.

The first round we never received any rent rebate though we didn't ask as we were already told we could but wait it out, so we did. But now I feel like they should have been doing regular checks ever since, it is property they own after all.

During the inspection we also found what appears to be black mold growing around a hot water pipe in the garage. Ugh....more problems. My sons Dr. thinks it 'could' be spread throughout the house via the vents and possibly that mold spores have been what has caused my son's asthma and mold allergies.

All this said I still don't want to move. I want a rodent and mold free home and to be reimbursed for the 2nd round of items destroyed by rats in our attic. Do I have a case? or it is just tough rat **** for us?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 01:50 AM   #2
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

I wish to inform you that the methodology of repairs in the rented property is governed by the lease agreement. However, if the lease agreement is silent then you can give a written Notice to the Landlord that the house is uninhabitable and it needs urgent repairs along with the estimate of repairs and your loss by rats with a further stipulation that in case Landlord does not repair then you will do the repairs and will deduct expense from rent. This written Notice will enable you later in case of dispute to show that the Landlord knew about all the activities and acted, accordingly. Generally, pest control is not the duty of the Landlord, therefore, you will have to inform the Landlord that because of the rats the house has become uninhabitable.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 02:11 PM   #3
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

You do realize that rats, dead or alive, carry a plethora of potentially deadly diseases, yes? Why would you want to live in a house that is infested with rats? You cannot sue your landlord and realistically believe you can continue to live there. The landlord will begin eviction proceedings the minute he/she receives the court papers notifying of your intent to sue.

Moving IS an option. It is always an option. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

You should be especially concerned about your children's health, as their immune systems are much weaker than adults and they can contract diseases, infections, viruses, etc. much easier than adults can. So that alone should make moving an option.

It is very unrealistic and irrational to want to continue to live in a rat infested house the landlords don't seem to do much about, yet want to sue the landlords and continue living there. It is just not going to happen.

Anybody who chooses to want to continue to live where rats are infesting, deserve what they get.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 02:27 PM   #4
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

The rat problem IS being addressed. As I wrote above the rat control company has already come to the house and set traps. They have also sealed off entry points they have been using to access the house. The insulation will get replaced and what not so the problem is getting handled but I wanted to know if I can get reimbursed for the items of mine that were destroyed.

Of course I would not continue to live WITH rats but this is a common problem in my area where we get heavy rains in the winter. I live in Marin County CA where it will cost over 7k to relocate into a new rental home as I have now. I do not have the means to move right now. and even if I could, I may or may not be able to find another home within the same school district and there would be additional implications for my home based business. I would rather have the problem dealt with and stay. It's not as though it's a problem that has no solution though to keep the rats at bay will require regular checks.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 02:49 PM   #5
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

PS. I also rent through a management company so my landlord relationship is not directly with the owner.
To evict me for demanding damages due to rat infestation would be retaliation which I think would be easy for any judge to see. I would of course request in writing to be reimbursed for damaged items before I filed a claim in court but if that did not produce any result I would like to know if I have any chance of winning in small claims court.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 03:53 PM   #6
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

You have requested extermination and the LL has provided such. Since this is not an ongoing problem (3 yrs between outbreaks), it doesn't appear to be a huge infestation and it shows that the methods he has been using have worked. The LL has done his part and met his obligation under the law. He has taken the needed steps to exterminate and to abate the problem, as required by law.

You alone are responsible for your items in the house. If you have renters insurance, that would pay for ruined belongings. But since those items are yours, and you chose to store them in that area after you already had knowledge that items there could be ruined, I doubt you have any case against the LL for the cost of your items. You chose to store items in an area with a previous record of them being destroyed there. That was your choice. I don't think he is responsible for your items. You have lived there for 3 yrs since the last rodent problem, and have had that period to save money to move to another place if you wished to do so. Had you saved only $45 a week for the last 3 yrs, you would now have the $7000 needed to move. (Moving can be an option if you chose to do so.) But he is not responsible for the destruction of your belongings. You put them there. He didn't. Nothing he did caused them to be damaged. You knew previous items stored there were damaged. You chose to take the chance that they would not be damaged. Things were fine for 3 yrs without incident. Now that it happened again, you want to sue. I don't think you would win. Sorry. But I suggest you do not store future items there if you value them.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:01 AM   #7
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Unhappy re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

3 years ago the problem was handled and I was perfectly content to stay where I am so I had no reason to be planning a move out. I could have afforded to move at that time though with the problem having been dealt with there was no reason to uproot my business or my son from his school. 2 years ago I got a divorce which wiped out my savings from which I've still not recovered from as soon after the economy fell apart, as we all know.

I do not know when the rodents came back into the attic. Rats are nocturnal but I'm not. The only reason I noticed a few weeks ago is because I was up nearly round the clock cramming for my final exams and that's when I heard their scratching and squeaking, well after midnight. From the report written by rodent control, they have probably been back for some time due to the amount of damage to the insulation. 3 years I had no reason to believe the attic would never be usable again or that the garage and it's stored contents were also at risk. Rodent control said entry points were completely sealed. I had no experience with rodents before that time so I just assumed it was over, now I know better.

It is shame to pay over 28k annually for rent and occupy at your own risk, that seems to be the message on this board and then some. I personally would feel horrible and would do everything I could to resolve the problem had I rented a home out and learned there were rats. From what I know now there is more that should be done aside from simply trapping. Proper cleaning and deodorizing need to take place as well to keep them away. That was not done 3 years ago and if it is not done this time I will have to start contemplating a move.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 11:12 AM   #8
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

If rodents can get in once, you certainly should expect them to eventually re-infest. (If it can happen once, it can happen again. Simple logic.) You KNEW it had happened and that everything there was destroyed. Why would you choose to store more items in the same place where they had been previously destroyed? Not good judgment. Just renting a place does not absolve you of all responsibility. You would be just as responsible for your possessions if it had been your own home. Why should the LL be responsible for your poor judgment just because you rent?

The fact is that you had a problem 3 yrs ago and it was handled. You had no problems at all until this year, and again it is being handled. Your expenses and family situation are your own business. Not anyone else's. But if I was concerned about rats in my house (which I would have been at the first infestation), I would not have remained in the house for 3 more years. I would have cut expenses (eating out, cable TV, cell phones, carpooled, quit smoking, made do with the old things longer, etc.) to find the money to move my family out of there. If rats were there once, they will eventually be back.

If this is a single family home, the pest control may even be your responsibility. Most states say the LL handles pest control in multi-family houses, the tenant in single family homes. Why? The reasoning is that pests cannot come from someone else's living quarters. They are either naturally-occurring living things that are indigenous to the area, or are enticed by living conditions. In your case, these are just natural pests that live near there. Rats don't live everywhere. You can move to rat free areas. If this is a single family home, the LL is already doing more than he is probably required to by law. He is exterminating them. Cleaning is your responsibility. Ensuring the safety of your possessions and insuring them in case of damages is also your responsibility. Sorry. But I see no case against the LL.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 12:05 PM   #9
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

Suing your landlord, regardless of whether they use a property management company, will strain the tenant/landlord relationship, and the landlord will look for any reason possible to evict you. It's unrealistic to think you can sue them and remain living there. Retaliation or not, landlords can come up with many plausible reasons for evicting tenants they do not want to rent to any longer.

You will have become not only a target for many 24 hour advance notice inspections, but you will have become a "problem tenant" not only to this landlord, but future landlords as well. You will find, if you move and have a lawsuit behind you, that many landlords will be very reluctant to rent to you, as history is a good predictor of the future.

It's best to try to work this out without suing, if at all possible.
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Old Jan 16th, 2010, 05:20 AM   #10
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Default re: Can I sue my landlord for damages due to rat infestation?

contact Larry H. Parker.. we did after a rats infested our apt and garage and ate our engine wires causing $2k in damage... regardless...this is the most important thing you should know...

1. the dept of health requires landlords to report a rat infestation immediately and the state will send out and inspection within 3 days. this is the landlords responsibility once notified by you. if the landlord does not notify the state then the landlord will be fined. the state considers rats as a seriouse disease issue and will punish the landlord for not following their guidlines.

2. the landlord is required by law to provide "safe habitable housing". if the rental property is uninhabitable, then you may sue for relocation. my neighbor in the unit below just won $28K for the rat issue we are too experiencing, her settlement was for the landlords not providing safe housing.

get a lawyer! do NOT listen the the previous post about how you shouldn't sue and cause "stress" with your landlord. listen to me and understand you have rights as a tenant and the law states that landlords MUST provide safe and HABITABLE housing.

your case is a PERSONAL INJURY CASE and listed under SLUMLORD with larry h. parker.

good luck and god bless.
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