I live in Chicago, Illinois. We have a fairly comprehensive renter's rights law
Several months ago, my USPS carrier reported to my landlord, through his superiors, that his access key to my 6-unit rental building was gone, and therefore he was unable to access the vestibule area to continue delivering our mail.
My landlord responded by saying that they would not provide a replacement key unless the USPS paid them for it. The USPS refused, saying it wasn't their fault.
This continued for a month, during which I received no USPS service whatsoever. We tenants were never notified of this dispute or indeed of the interruption and obstruction of our mail service.
I found out because twice I had packages marked as "delivered" in USPS tacking that were not; after calling the post office multiple times, it turned out that they were sitting in a corner somewhere in the office, and after further followup I found out the above facts that I've laid out more logically. About a week after I directly pressured both sides, they finally resolved the matter and mail service resumed.
My actual monetary damages from his are minimal. One care package containing home-made food from my parents was never delivered as a result of this (it degraded enough that USPS threw it out). I could have suffered additional damages from e.g. being charged with mail fraud for reporting my paid-for packages as nonreceived, had I not been so aggressive in tracking them down.
US Code Title 18 Ch. 83 § 1701-1703
says that it's a midemeanor or felony to obstruct or delay the mail. I contacted the USPS prosecutors, but they were uninterested in pursuing criminal charges for a small case like this.
I am suing my landlord in civil court over this issue (among others); my court date is next week. In order to collect statutory damages under Chicago code 5-12-110
(f) and 5-12-160
, I need to convince the court that USPS service is an "essential service".
1. What other laws might support this, other than the federal criminal laws above against obstruction of mail?
2. What laws relate to the failure of both my landlord and the USPS to notify me that my mail service was interrupted?
3. The code provides for damages equal to "an amount that reasonably reflects the reduced value of the premises due to the material noncompliance or failure if the landlord fails to correct the condition within 24 hours after being notified by the tenant".
a) I only notified my landlord three weeks in, since I myself was not aware. Is there a good legal counter I can use to say that the USPS' notification is more than sufficient?
b) What is a good basis for determining the "reduced value" of a unit for lack of mail service? I intend to argue that it's 100% of the rent, in that it would be impossible to sell a unit if people knew it had no mail service.