Landlord/Tenant Disputes: Firm That Tops List Gives You 5 Things to Do When Facing Landlord Neglect
Block O’Toole & Murphy was included in the most recent Jury Verdict Reporter as the firm responsible for generating the 1st and 2nd best results in Landlord/Tenant Dispute cases over the last year. The results included a $2,250,000 settlement for a Bronx tenant who fell down stairs as a result of a landlord having ignored a roof leak and a $1,500,000 Settlement where a tenant claimed that a lack of a handrail and the failure to properly shovel snow and ice on the apartments entryway steps caused the tenant to fall and injure her back and knee. “The Hot Sheet” results can be found in the June 13, 2016 edition of The Jury Verdict Reporter.
Tenants often feel like they are powerless when facing a landlord who refuses to provide them with a safe place to live. Some landlords have developed a well-earned reputation and that is why in many low income areas they are referred to as “slumlords.” If you are confronted with an unsafe living condition and a landlord who refuses to do the right thing there are 5 steps that you should strongly consider following.
1. Create A Paper Trail
There are countless scenarios where a tenant is injured and they claim it was a result of an ongoing, dangerous condition that they repeatedly asked their landlord to fix. The requests are usually over the phone or in person, perhaps directed to a porter or superintendent. Sometimes the person who is asked to fix the condition doesn’t speak English, refuses to cooperate later after an accident or just flat out denies the conversation. This allows the landlord to comfortably deny being aware of the problem. How can I be held responsible for fixing something if I didn’t know it needed to be fixed? It is a classic blame shifting game, make the tenant responsible for the unsafe condition.
How do you fix this? You send letters, emails and texts to the people responsible for making repairs. You copy the owner and managing agents on all communication. You document in a personal journal all communications so that everything that is discussed is in some way memorialized.
2. Review Your Lease
Frequently both a tenant and a landlord forget what is contained within the legal document that governs their relationship, the lease agreement. Reminding a landlord that they are failing to honor their legal obligations in a lease can often spur them on to do what is necessary to keep your home safe.
3. Document Complaints With Administrative Agencies Finally a complaint with the Department of Buildings, calling 311 or reporting an unsavory landlord to the authorities is an effective way to document your complaints and increase the likelihood that your home will be a safer place for you to live.
Why? Landlords tend to react to administrative officials who have the ability to find them or curtail the likelihood of them being able to purchase additional real estate in the area. It also may increase their insurance premiums if they have accumulated a long history of violations.
4. Photograph the Dangerous Condition A picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs can help you tell your story about landlord neglect. They will verify your description of the conditions and vilify the landlord that forced you to live under those circumstances. Photograph the dangerous condition before there is an accident so that you are able to show to the dangerous nature of it even prior to your injury.
5. Retain an Experienced Attorney With a Track Record of Success in Taking on Landlords
If you have been involved in an accident that was caused by your landlord failing to provide you with a safe place to live it may be a sound idea for you to contact an attorney.
While there are thousands of lawyers, some capable and some not, you should focus on retaining an attorney or firm that has a proven history of taking on powerful landlords. You should scrutinize how often the attorney or firm has shown a willingness to take a case to verdict. You should also look at their results and learned as much as you can about their reputation in the legal community.
Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that has demonstrated an ability to successfully fight on behalf of seriously injured tenants. The firm has recovered nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for their clients.