Chevy Chase, MD asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for Maryland

Q: Can I sue my leasing office (maryland) for waiting over 4 hours for a clogged toilet?

I waited for hours and the lady from the maintenance kept hanging up on me when I called for updates.

1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: First off, let me quote my late, old professor of Business Law back at Penn. "Of course, they can sue. Any idiot can sue. All it takes is a pen, paper, and the filing fee … and on occasion a crayon is substituted for the pen. The question you are trying to ask is whether you can win."

Next, we look to your lease. Most leases require the tenant to perform standard maintenance in their homes, and I would think of use of a plunger as maintenance and not repair. If your lease requires the landlord to refill the toilet paper roll and soap, set your dinner table, and wash the dishes, then they should do what they contracted.

At base, however, unless repairs are contracted to the tenant, the landlord in a residential lease must maintain a habitable environment, and that means the toilets must be free of defects. Your remedy if they are too slow is to hire a plumber yourself, have it fixed, deduct it from the rent, and submit the bill. If the invoice merely says the plumber plunged your over-stuffed toilet, you can anticipate that the landlord will demand the rest of the rent or begin eviction. Buy a plunger.

Douglas Phillips agrees with this answer

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