5 Ways on How to Prove Landlord Negligence
Tenants deserve a safe living environment. What’s more, South Carolina has building codes which require landlords to address dangerous or inadequate living conditions so that premises are habitable. Any landlord who fails can face fines and other penalties.
But how to prove landlord negligence? Defined simply, negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care. A landlord can be negligent when they act or don’t act when they should. For example, negligent landlords can create or refuse to fix dangerous conditions which threaten the safety of their tenants. At Surasky Law, we use our deep experience in Aiken, SC personal injury law for our clients’ benefit.
When Negligence Matters
Tenants confront many challenges while renting. A dangerous home is something no one should have to deal with.
We often see landlord negligence arise with:
Mold and toxic substances. Water intrusion can lead to mold growth behind sheetrock where it is hard to see. Many people know they are suffering from toxic mold exposure when they have flu-like symptoms, like body aches and a runny nose. If left untreated, toxic exposure can cause long-term injuries.
Structural damage. Crumbling walls or pillars, roof problems, and foundation damage all threaten the integrity of your building. In extreme cases, parts of a building can collapse.
Dangerous conditions. It can be hazardous to get inside your building. Stairs, banisters and elevators could all be broken. If it snows or rains, then ice formation on sidewalks or steps can make it difficult to walk outside without falling.
Fires. Poor electrical wiring and missing fire extinguishers can lead to fires which consume a building. Tenants might suffer burns, smoke inhalation, and falls as they try to escape. Unfortunately, over 2,600 people die in a house fire each year.
Property repairs. Malfunctioning appliances need to be repaired, as does any roof leaks or broken air conditionings systems. You need these things to be in good working order not only for your comfort. Repairs will also improve safety on the property.
Insect or rodent infestation. Mice, rats, snakes, and insects can make a home uninhabitable and also dangerous.
Inadequate security. Security measures prevent criminals from breaking in and attacking you. Your home should have locks on windows and doors, as well as other reasonable security measures like door intercoms and lighting in common areas.
Sometimes, landlord negligence only results in monetary loss. For example, a rodent infestation might force you to pay out-of-pocket for pest control, or you might abandon your home and rent a hotel room. In other situations, negligence can cause bodily injuries which send you to the hospital.
Either way, you deserve compensation for your losses. Those who suffer bodily injuries, however, will probably receive more compensation.
Why Documentation Matters
You can hold a landlord legally liable for negligence, but you must be strategic. It’s not enough to simply complain about the living conditions, because then it is your word against your landlord’s. If you go into court, you’ll want to show a judge the condition of the property so he or she will believe what you are saying.
If you suffered a bodily injury, you also want to connect it to your landlord’s negligence. Sometimes this is an easy step. In other situations, you need more proof, such as illness caused by toxic mold inhalation. Medical records can document the extent of your injury and suffering.
How to Prove Landlord Negligence
Here are things you can do to document landlord negligence:
Photograph the dangerous condition. Use your phone to take photographs of anything that seems dangerous. Make sure the date shows up on your picture or else print them off and write the date on the back.
Record video. Depending on the situation, you might also use video to record a dangerous condition.
Gather witness statements. Anyone who observed the dangerous condition can provide testimony.
Preserve receipts if you paid to fix anything. Maybe you called pest control out to your place and paid them out of pocket. Receipts help back up your story about the dangerousness of the property.
Keep medical records. If you suffered a bodily injury, you want records which back up your story of how the hazard hurt you.
A premises liability attorney might have other ideas about proving negligence, so reach out to speak to Surasky Law today.
Notify Your Landlord of the Problem
It should go without saying that landlords can’t fix problems they don’t know about. Of course, landlords can see some hazards themselves, like damage to a roof or parking lot. But for any problem inside your apartment, you need to notify them.
We recommend using a letter and sending it certified mail, return receipt requested. This way, you have proof of when it was received. Also, keep a copy for your records.
Ideally, you should use email to communicate back and forth because email leaves a paper trail. If you speak in person or on the phone, quickly summarize the conversation when it is over. You can also use text messages if you want, but it is hard to have a meaningful conversation via text.
Contact an Attorney to Review Your Case
Proving negligence is not easy. An attorney at Surasky Law can explain what compensation you might receive if you bring a lawsuit. Many of our clients sue landlords for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as other consequential losses. Contact us soon as possible so we can review all your options. We will also help you document the problems with your rental.