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meearnol
09-04-2007, 01:31 PM
So I live in this apartment complex that is what one might call a bit "run down." It's not terrible, but it's not the classiest joint in town either. In February the Maintenance Manager totaled my car by backing into me with his truck. The complex manager tried to tell me it was my fault, and offered me $200 off my next month's rent. I ended up filing it with my insurance and the complex insurance paid out my car.

So here's the newest fiasco - a couple of months ago I called the office to tell them the stairs leading off of my balcony were in need of repair. A couple of the treads were loose. Well yesterday when I was taking my dog out, the treads gave out. While I was standing on them. I didn't fall all the way through because I was able to grab the hand rail, but I pulled a bunch of muscles in my arm, and I landed on some nails from where the tread had come loose. I'm all bruised up and I have a few puncture wounds on my thigh (nothing serious though). I went to the immediate care center, and I fully intend to have the complex pay for that visit.

Do any of you have any suggestions as to what I could do? I'm having the construction guys at work see if they can find any codes on stairs and structural stuff.

In the meantime I'll sit here and stew over how much I want to move.

ekgheiy
09-04-2007, 01:46 PM
Dude, I'm so sorry to hear about this. Given that it is against the law to exact much needed violent revenge again slumlords, Yes - sue them! While I don't know exactly how to go about doing this, that is my two cents.

I'd talk to an attorney to see what legal options you have available. Some attorneys offer free initial consultations to let you know if you even have grounds to sue. If money is an issue, perhaps you could find a pro-bono attorney.

You may want to also try contacting your state government's department of housing. For example, Maryland's is here (http://www.dhcd.state.md.us/Website/home/index.aspx). Perhaps your state department can help in some way.

I hope that gave some ideas... :??:pout:

Kaydee
09-04-2007, 02:18 PM
I'm not a lawyer (and I don't play one on tv) but it seems to me like you'd have grounds to sue then especially after you already called to report the stairs. Your landlord is responsible for upkeep of the building, and that includes the outside. Especially if it poses a danger to the residents, and it obviously was dangerous for you.

cftwo
09-04-2007, 02:21 PM
It sounds like they were waiting for a lawsuit. If there are reputable personal injury lawyers, who do free consultations, I'd call and ask. From your post, there aren't a lot of medical bills, though. Mostly, you just want them to fix up the place so it's safe. I don't know who to call about poor housing conditions like that, though.

I assume you can't move???

auburnchick
09-04-2007, 02:25 PM
I am not typically a sue-happy minded person, but it does sound like this complex needs a wake-up call. That could have happened to anyone. They are very lucky you weren't injured worst. It could easily have been one of your family members doing the suing for you.

That said, do you have a record of every time you talked to them about repairing it? Perhaps you made several phone calls and noted the date? That would certainly help.

Perhaps you could get together with other residents, compare notes, and do this together. That makes you less of the "bad" guy, and it accomplishes something good for everyone.

Just my thoughts...

Jeremy
09-04-2007, 02:30 PM
The landlord had notice of the defect and even if he hadn't probably had a duty to the tenants to survey the property even for hidden defects. I doubt that an injury atty would be interested simply because the damages are not that significant. However, small claims court in a case that you handle yourself is very doable and worthwhile. You could probably get time out of work, medical bills etc. If you suffered a greater amount in damages, then a lawyer would be interested. I would also call the city housing dept. to lodge a complaint that the property is not up to code. They could force the landlord to move a lot quicker because they can fine him.

meearnol
09-04-2007, 02:45 PM
Thanks for your suggestions everyone.

I can't move unless I break my lease (which I'm considering). I just signed for another year. I'm here until August 31, 2008. Ugh.

I don't have documentation of any of the calls I made to them, and judging by the way they handled the whole car thing last February, I can only assume they'd deny having heard from me.

Jeremy - I think I'll be calling the Department of Metropolitan Development in Indianapolis to report them. You're right about the attorney thing. My injuries weren't bad enough to worry about, as far as the medical bills go ($80 for the visit). I just wish there was something more I could do.

Thanks again for all of your suggestions.

Mariblue
09-04-2007, 02:59 PM
:hug:No real advice, but perhaps you ought to take some pictures of the damages to the building, and the damages to yourself, etc. Just in case you need some additional proof. And also, deal with them in writing from now on. And keep copies. :hug:

Silver
09-04-2007, 03:00 PM
I can't move unless I break my lease (which I'm considering). I just signed for another year. I'm here until August 31, 2008. Ugh.
You CAN move if your landlord isn't holding up his end of the contract, which includes a safe, livable environment. If they do not do necessary repairs in a reasonable amount of time, they are breaking their contract with you. I once threatened to sue and break my lease when my landlord didn't get my A/C fixed during summer. I had waited 4 days in 95 degree weather and had enough. I called, yelled at them, mentioned my lawyer, and they had a repairman there that afternoon. :thumbsup:

At this point, you can certainly sue. But I think you should limit it to your medical bills, any lost wages, and a release from your lease.

You need to do some research on rental/leased property law in your state. You have the right to expect that your home is taken care of. He is the landlord and that is his responsibility.

Jan in CA
09-04-2007, 03:42 PM
I don't have a lot to add to what has already been said. I do think you should document all this and any past history that you can honestly remember or verify through phone logs, etc. Here's my thoughts on how to document.. anyone can add something if they think of it.

Take photos of damages you are complaining about as in the stairs. Then if nothing is done take another photo of the damage both to the stairs and to you if something happens.
Make note of time, what was said and who you talked to on phone calls.
Keep track of anything you have had to do in relation to this issue (doctor, repairman, etc)

dakatzmeow
09-04-2007, 04:06 PM
keep good notes. report them to the municipality as was already suggested. you have grounds for SOMETHING. small claims court sounds wise at this point.

also, do you have a renter's policy? i'm wondering if the medical portion would cover your urgent care visit and perhaps your insurance co. could help pursue building inspections. ;)

MrsDavis3
09-04-2007, 04:43 PM
You can find out if there are any other problems in the complex by requesting an inspection by the city agency responsible for buildings being up to code. I got my deposit back once by having an inspection done (NO cost to me) and all sorts of little code violations were discovered, things you never would have thought of...but it was enough to show that the landlord had no right to keep my deposit when he hadn't conformed to city codes.

IBAmyB
09-04-2007, 05:00 PM
I usually think people are too "sue happy" in this country (like a woman I work with who treathens to sue anyone and everyone!), but I completely agree with everyone else. You definitely have a right to take legal action against the complex.

If you told them about the stairs but they didn't fix it in a timely matter, they are definitely at fault and need to be reported, and small claims court is your best bet to recoup your costs. You shouldn't have to pay when you told them about the stairs and they did nothing about it. It wasn't as if you were jumping on the stairs trying to get them to break - you were walking down the stairs as normal.

As for you breaking your lease, if they refused to address your safety/health concerns then they broke their end of the deal. If they try to make your pay a fee, then that is another legal claim you have against them.

Susan P.
09-04-2007, 08:24 PM
I would take action because at the very least you want to ensure your current and any future medical bills are taken care of. It may be a small amount now but you can't be sure you may not need physio or similar in a week or a month sure to strained ligaments or joints. You also want to ensure that you don't suffer a sudden notice to vacate which some horrid agents or landlords will do if they are afraid of a situation. But you may want to go? Once you commence action for damages, any attempt on their part to move you on would become part of the issue. Taking action is also ensuring the landlord/agent learns to respond to primary issues. Now, obviously you would be asked if you knew the stairs were a problem why you used them and I can't see your original post now but did you say you walked or took a dog down the stairs? Let me go look.

Susan P.
09-04-2007, 08:29 PM
Ok, yes you did say that :) They would try and argue that say you got tangled in the lead and you fell and it was your fall that created the issue and broke the treads. Think about that potential because they could try and claim that now. Thank goodness you have material proof that you had reported the issue before the fall happened. But again, were these the only stairs you could have used because you will (once again) be asked why you used them when you knew they were a problem.

I agree with IBAmyB's comment about a sue happy populace however in this case you wouldn't be seeking more than say medical expenses or what is 'reasonable'. It's not like you are seeking a million dollars for "anguish" :)

And the car needs to be addresses but your insurance company would be the ones to counter sue. You on the other hand can demand your excess is met. I did that once and initially the business said "no" but when I pressed they gave in. I didn't feel I should pay an excess and lose my no claim bonus simply because they had failed their duty of care and service. It wasn't like I was maliciously seeking bucketloads of money.

vaknitter
09-04-2007, 08:35 PM
WOW - sorry you are so unhappy - that really sucks. Have you thought about calling the BBB? You can file a complaint with them and they will talk to the apt complex, help you find building inspections and even go into mediation with you and the comlex management to help financially resolve the issue. You could even ask as one of the conditions that you be freed from your lease (if that's what you want).

Hope your bruises feel better : )

misha rf
09-04-2007, 10:13 PM
I agree with what's been said, and second MrsDavis about calling a city inspector. My sister & I had to do that once (we were renting a house). The list of violations was quite long, and our slumb*tch was given a certain amount of time to make repairs. Her response was to put the house on the market w/o telling the realtor about the list of violations. We were only too happy tell potential buyers about them. And she did let us out of the lease early.

I hope you heal soon!!:hug: