Clinton, MD asked in Contracts, Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for Maryland

Q: How do I rectify this situation with my apartment complex? I just want to be treated fairly or retrieve some justice?

I’ve been in a 1 year lease for about 6 mo and have been filled multiple complaints about the flooding in my building and apartment unit. Everytime it rains it floods nasty sewage into my building and rain water seeps into my apartment. I was given no warning or waiver about this before signing my lease or while viewing the apartment. I would’ve moved the first month if I could. I have sent multiple maintenance request and even wrote a detailed email to the property managers. Sometimes they respond but don’t fix the issue or even send a guy to wet vac. The property management called and apologized but still has made no effort to stop the flooding. I have mutiple dated videos of the flooding outside my basement level apartment. Today I fell into the swamp while bringing in groceries...

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Go the the management office, demand: (1) to be released from your lease so you can move out to another place to live; or (2) to be relocated to another apartment without these issues. If you do not get either of these requests granted, file a complaint with the county health department and/or landlord tenant office, and file a rent escrow action in District Court. The rent escrow complaint forms are available online and at the court. A rent escrow action is where you detail unsanitary and unhealthy defects or conditions in your rental unit that threaten your health or safety and make the premises unsafe to occupy, and instead of paying your rent to the landlord, you pay your rent into the registry of the court. The court will decide whether you have made a sufficient factual basis to require the landlord to repair and remedy the problems, and will hold all rent in court until the landlord fixes the problem. The rent will then be released back to you for the months you have had to endure living in the apartment under such conditions until the property is restored to a safe condition (or so much of the rent as the court deems appropriate given the level of problems). Nothing concentrates a landlord's attention to remedy unlivable conditions as not getting their rental income until they do so. You bear the burden of proof. Your say-so will not be enough. You need photos of the these conditions--lots of them. Ideally, you get a health department inspection report, or and landlord-tenant affairs office report (if there is such an office or investigator in your county). If you simply move out with a letter declaring the lease to be in breach for violating the covenant of quite enjoyment and for the landlord having failed to provide a habitable premises, and the landlord has not agreed in advance to release you, then you may have a civil complaint filed against you which you will have to defend for breaking lease early. You may win, but you will want to document the conditions and your efforts to get the landlord to remedy them in order to defend the action, as well as sue for your security deposit.

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