My rented basement apartment flooded and I can't live there anymore. What next?
August 8, 2012 9:56 AM Subscribe
I rent a basement apartment in Washington, DC in a neighborhood that recently experienced serious, repeated dirty water flooding due to issues with the water system (specifically, Bloomingdale
I evacuated amidst the first of three floods and I haven't lived there since. I don't believe I can move back in, so I'd like some help understanding what I am supposed to do next.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (3 answers total)
Thankfully, I have renter's insurance and will be able to recover from the minor belongings that were ruined. I am looking for a place to live but am settled somewhere until Sept 1 for now. I also have an emergency backup plan if I don't find something in time.
90% of my belongings have been in storage on my insurance's dime since 7/10 and I moved out the remaining goods on 8/5 when I told my landlord that the damage was too extensive - and the risk of re-flooding too high - for me to consider moving back in.
He accepted this pretty readily, but we have yet to discuss the financial aspects.
1) I paid for the entire month of July but only lived there for 10 days. Am I due a refund?
2) Does my landlord have cause to sue me for August rent? I didn't give him 30 days' notice because I had planned on moving back in until I realized how extensive the damage was. He hasn't brought it up, and I don't plan to. Right now, I don't believe the apartment is suitable for anyone to live in. He has had it professionally cleaned several times, but there is water damage and mildew on the walls and a persistent damp smell.
Note: I know neither I nor my landlord can legally use my security deposit (which is equal to 1 month's rent) as my final month's rent.
I have contacted the DC Office of the Tenant Advocate (OTA) and was told that I was not due a refund for July and would have to pay August rent because this issue was not my landlord's fault and he can't prevent it - this was my gut feeling but not what non-DC lawyers in my personal life were telling me.
I contacted the DC Tenant's Advocacy Coalition (TENAC) and was told that I probably was due a refund for July and was not responsible for August. They then told me to call OTA because they could not take on my case.
What would you do next?