Poor Building Management Causes Injury...
My fiance lives in public housing. She's been trying to get a lot of things fixed such as (1) her shower that has a hole behind the wall that leads to the bricks outside and (2) the drywall rotted out and has been falling from behind the plastic of the shower clogging her drain.
This has been going on for about a year now. About three months ago there was a flood in our children's room. They woke up to standing water that has destroyed their beds as well as their toys and learning tools.
We are the parents of twin autistic boys. They needed beds so we were told we were going to receive help. They were going to help us get back what had been destroyed due to the flood which was caused by a faulty drain pipe they had to completely replace.
They finally fixed it and said they were going to be back to fix the drywall but they never returned. I put a big industrial fan on it to dry it out and it took like a week. Then I had to replace all the drywall and mud it.
All this time we kept calling and asking for help. We turned in maintenance requests as well! Still no one is helping, last night the sink started to leak and the water had to be shut off to stop it. Maintenance came to look at it but they never returned.
The final straw, the real gut turner was when my fiance went to open a very heavy closet door (that was in one of many maintenance requests to be fixed) and it fell on her face, resulting in a slight concussion, one stitch to her eyebrow and a really long bruise on her face. She had to get X-rays.
We are both laid off and on unemployment. Can we get help? She now has a doctor's bill from hell thanks to this. We have no health insurance. She pays $350 per month to live there plus all other expenses. And she's got three children.
I have been recording all of the events by picture such as the door and her face after she got home from the doctor. I also have pictures of the flood damage and our children's toys, bed and other things destroyed before and after.
Housing is now saying they have never received maintenance requests from us even when we have plenty of witnesses to the fact, even people who work there.
As a response they had me prove that I was not living on the property myself - just to play games like they were threatening me or something... like if I keep trying to get them to help out and do their jobs they might try to kick my kids out on the street.
Please tell us what to do. I know we're poor but we deserve better, our children deserve better. I can put some money together, it's not much but I don't know what to do. I love my children and I love my girlfriend, what am I to do?
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ANSWER for "Poor Building Management Causes Injury...":
Being poor has nothing to do with this - You are entitled to habitable living and that's the bottom line! Because this is public housing you are dealing with, they are accountable to the State (and possibly the Federal Government if it is the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD).
I say this because it may be necessary for you to go higher up than the maintenance department or the management of your fiance's home. Part of the reason people do not do this is a fear of getting evicted, but that would be retaliatory eviction, and it is patently against the law.
The cause of action you have is breach of the implied warranty of habitability and quiet enjoyment. When this happens, you are permitted to do a few things, one of which is TELL THE LANDLORD.
If you fail to tell the landlord or submit maintenance requests, this may be an absolute defense to them which is why I suspect they are telling you that you cannot prove that you ever told them of the litany of problems.
Some of the options available here are repairing the items yourself and asking for reimbursement or refusing to pay for the rent attributed to the portion of your apartment you cannot use. Because it is subsidized housing, however you may not have these options.
The best advice for you and your family is to determine what state or federal agency is in charge of your housing and submit a complaint form to them.
Remember that your fiance probably qualifies for this housing based upon her unemployment income plus three dependents so if you are found to be residing in the home, you may jeopardize their housing situation. Just something to keep in the back of your mind.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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