How Do I Sue My Landlord for Emotional Distress Due to Poor Living Conditions? (2023)

How Do I Sue My Landlord for Emotional Distress Due to Poor Living Conditions? (1)

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Under every state's laws, a landlord has certain duties to residential tenants, including the duty to provide a habitable living space and the duty to permit the tenant to use the property without interference. When your landlord breaches these duties, you may be able to sue the landlord for damages, which can include emotional distress damages.

(Video) Can I Sue My Landlord For Not Making Repairs ?

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

State laws vary on what conduct is sufficient to create a claim for emotional distress damages. A landlord's breach of the warranty of habitability or the covenant of quiet enjoyment may be enough, depending on your state's laws.

Duties of a Landlord to a Residential Tenant

Landlord/tenant laws are generally state laws. Although there are federal housing laws that apply to every state, individual states can then drill down and create their own laws that may be more strict than the federal laws when setting forth illegal landlord practices.

Almost every state's laws provide that residential leases contain certain implied warranties or covenants related to the living conditions and the tenant's use of the property, including the implied warranty of habitability and the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Breach of Warranty of Habitability

The ​implied warranty of habitability​ is a requirement that a landlord provide residential tenants with safe and habitable living conditions. The warranty is implied because the landlord is bound by it even if the lease agreement is silent on the subject.

(Video) What is Involved in Suing for Emotional Distress

When the problems are created by the tenant, the warranty typically does not apply. However, if something breaks and it's not the tenant's fault, the landlord must fix it. If the landlord fails or refuses to make necessary repairs, he may be in breach of the warranty of habitability.

Read More:Uninhabitable Tenant Rights in Indiana

What the Warranty of Habitability Includes

The warranty of habitability may differ in the details from state to state, but generally, it requires that a landlord comply with all applicable building and housing codes. Usually, this means that the landlord must make sure that the heat, electricity and water are all in good working order, and he must repair them if not.

The same is true for the building itself; the landlord must also fix leaking roofs and windows. In some states, pest control also falls under the umbrella of the landlord's responsibilities. If your apartment building becomes overrun with rats or cockroaches, your landlord may be responsible for getting rid of them.

If the lease purports to waive the warranty, a court will likely not enforce such a waiver, which means that if you signed a lease saying the landlord makes no warranties, the court will still find that the warranty exists.

Breach of Quiet Enjoyment

Most states also include an ​implied covenant of quiet enjoyment​ in all residential leases. "Quiet enjoyment" is a somewhat vague term that encompasses a lot of different things, including a tenant's right to live in privacy in his rented space without interference from the landlord. In some states, it covers even more than that, including a landlord's insistence upon charging rent despite a continuing breach of the warranty of habitability or even a landlord's attempt to evict a tenant without taking him to court first.

(Video) How can you Prove Emotional Distress

Damages for a Landlord's Breach of Warranty

If your landlord breaches the warranty of habitability or the warranty of quiet enjoyment, you may be able to sue her to recover monetary damages. Money damages may include recovery of any rent you paid while the poor conditions were in effect or money you paid to fix the damage yourself. In some states, such as California and Arizona, you may be able to seek emotional distress damages if the landlord's actions were particularly egregious.

Emotional Distress Damages

Emotional distress damages​ are a type of damage award that assigns a dollar figure to the victim's emotional distress. Infliction of emotional distress is a tort, which is an action (or inaction) someone takes that injures someone else. Personal injury lawsuits usually involve the tort of negligence, for instance, while defamation lawsuits will include either the tort of libel or the tort of slander.

Often seen as part of an award in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, emotional distress damages are available in some states when a landlord creates a situation that causes severe emotional distress.

Emotional distress that rises to an actionable level under the law may be inflicted either intentionally or negligently.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress​ means that someone acted in such an outrageous manner that he caused you emotional distress severe enough to affect your mental health, and he did so with the intent of causing that level of distress. A court will review such a claim on a case-by-case basis, but certain condition must be present, which include:

  • The offending party engaging in outrageous conduct.
  • The offending party's purpose being to cause you severe emotional distress (or even physical harm that is likely to cause emotional distress), or the offending party engaging in the conduct with reckless disregard as to how it would affect you.
  • The conduct actually causing you such severe emotional distress.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a severe remedy when physical injury is not involved and as a result, the conduct of the other party must be so horrible that it goes ​outside the bounds of human decency​. A court in Maine, for example, allowed a woman to sue a cruise line for emotional distress when the crew of the ship harassed her and teased her so much that she barely left her cabin. Another example is a court in Georgia that allowed a suit by a couple who were subjected to a doctor's screaming and cursing while the husband was hospitalized.

(Video) Tenants sue landlord over living conditions, delayed repairs

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

Negligent infliction of emotional distress​ occurs when someone had a duty of care to someone else and breached that duty of care, causing emotional distress damages. In other words, it occurs when someone's negligence causes emotional distress to someone else.

Like other torts, state laws vary on what constitutes negligent infliction of emotional distress; all states require negligence and emotional injury, but they may also require that one or two additional elements apply, which include:

  • Foreseeability​, such that the person at fault should have foreseen that his action would cause the emotional distress. ​Most states​ require foreseeability.
  • Physical impact​, such that the distressed person was also harmed physically in some way. Few states have this requirement.
  • Presence in the ​zone of danger​, such that the distressed person was close enough to a serious accident or harm that she could have been injured and became fearful as a result.

Emotional Distress in a Landlord-Tenant Dispute

Landlords may be sued for emotional distress in certain situations. In Arizona, for example, courts have awarded emotional distress damages to tenants for their annoyance and discomfort caused by inhabitable living conditions such as inadequate heat and water and dangerous pests. In Massachusetts, a landlord's breach of quiet enjoyment caused by a landlord's miscalculation of rent and subsequent eviction action may lead to emotional distress damages.

If the landlord's actions are outrageous and done with the purpose of causing you emotional harm, or if she is merely negligent but should have known the negligence would cause emotional harm, you may be able to sue your landlord for emotional distress if you do suffer from it as a result, depending on your state's laws.

Read More:Tenants Rights in Health Code Violations



What is considered unsafe living conditions in Arizona? ›

Unsafe conditions may include lack of heat and air conditioning (A.R.S. §33-1364), infestation of pests, or non-working appliances (A.R.S. §33-1324), among others.

How do I report a landlord in Mississippi? ›

In Mississippi, to lodge a complaint or obtain further information, contact HUD's Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Division; 100 West Capitol Street, Suite 910; Jackson, MS 39269, or telephone (601) 965-4762.

When can you get compensation from a landlord? ›

You can get damages if: you've been injured or made ill. your belongings have been damaged or destroyed. you've been inconvenienced and unable to use your home in the normal way.

How do I report a landlord in Louisiana? ›

To Submit a Complaint

For questions regarding fair housing laws or if you wish to have a representative from the State Attorney General's Office speak to your organization call 800-273-5718.

Who do I report my landlord to in Arizona? ›

Filing a Complaint
  • Complete an online civil rights complaint form.
  • Call our toll free numbers: 877-491-5742 (Phoenix) or 877-491-5740 (Tucson)
  • Write a letter that includes: The person's name and address. The name and address of the person the complaint is about. The address of the house or apartment involved.

What can I do if my landlord is not making repairs? ›

You can take your landlord to court if they won't deal with repairs in your home. You should only consider legal action as a last resort. If you do take legal action, the court can order your landlord to: carry out the repair work.

What are my rights as a renter in Mississippi? ›

Mississippi landlords have rights, which include the right to collect rent and the right to reimbursement for damages to property that exceed normal wear and tear. Tenants also have rights which include pursuing housing without discrimination and the right to habitable premises.

What a landlord Cannot do? ›

Landlords cannot enter tenanted properties without giving proper notice. Landlords cannot arbitrarily end someone's tenancy before the lease expires. Arbitrary, mid-lease rent increases are not permitted unless specified in certain circumstances in the lease or by the municipality.

Can you withhold rent in Mississippi? ›

At the outset, let's clear up one common misunderstanding: Mississippi law does NOT allow you to withhold your rent until the landlord makes a repair. Nor does Mississippi law allow you to “repair and deduct” except under certain very specific conditions which are discussed below.

What are examples of landlord harassment? ›

Harassment can include:
  • stopping services, like electricity.
  • withholding keys, for example there are 2 tenants in a property but the landlord will only give 1 key.
  • refusing to carry out repairs.
  • anti-social behaviour by a landlord's agent, for example a friend of the landlord moves in next door and causes problems.

Can I claim rent back from landlord? ›

Tenants and former tenants can reclaim up to twelve months rent in a RRO where the tenant can prove the landlord has committed an offence or been convicted.

Can I sue my private landlord? ›

You can take your landlord to court if they won't do repairs after you've asked them. You're more likely to win your case if you give the court as much evidence as possible. The judge will look at the evidence you and your landlord provide before making a decision.

What Are Renters Rights in Louisiana? ›

Louisiana landlords have certain rights, including the right to pursue evictions following the violation of a lease agreement and the right to receive rental payments. Tenants also have rights, for instance, tenants have a right to a habitable dwelling unit and the right to due process before eviction.

Does mold make a house uninhabitable? ›

Moulds are fungi that need moisture and organic material to grow. When disturbed or dried out, they release spores that can cause illness in some people. They may also cause structural damage if left untreated. Mould can cause a state of disrepair at rented premises.

How do I report an apartment complex in Louisiana? ›

To report a bad landlord to the Multifamily Housing Complaint Line call toll-free at (800) MULTI-70 (800) 685-8470) / TTY (800) 432-2209.

Can I sue my landlord for emotional distress in Arizona? ›

Landlords may be sued for emotional distress in certain situations. In Arizona, for example, courts have awarded emotional distress damages to tenants for their annoyance and discomfort caused by inhabitable living conditions such as inadequate heat and water and dangerous pests.

What are my rights as a renter in Arizona? ›

In Arizona, tenants are allowed to withhold rent payments. Specifically, the tenant may withhold rent if the landlord deliberately or negligently fails to supply running water, gas or electrical service, and reasonable amounts of hot water or heat, air-conditioning or cooling, or other essential services.

What does the Fair Housing Act protect? ›

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to harass persons because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, familial status, or national origin.

Can you refuse to pay your rent if repairs are needed? ›

Check if you have the right to withhold rent? You don't have the right to withhold rent because of your landlord's failure to do repairs. If you withhold rent your landlord may start possession proceedings against you and put you at risk of eviction.

How quickly should a landlord make repairs? ›

It says landlords should fix major problems within two weeks if they pose a threat to a tenant's health and security, such as a broken boiler in the depths of winter.

What is Section 11 of the Housing Act? ›

Landlord's obligations under section 11

The landlord must keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house and keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating, and heating water.

How long does a landlord have to fix something in Mississippi? ›

If the landlord fails to make requested repairs, the tenant should first submit a written notice of the needed repairs, citing the landlord's responsibilities under the lease agreement. If the landlord has not made the repairs within 30 days, the tenant can have the repairs made and seek reimbursement.

What are landlords responsible for in Mississippi? ›

Landlords are required to maintain a unit in substantially the same condition as at the beginning of the lease, reasonable wear and tear excepted. A landlord must repair anything that was working at the beginning of the lease. To avoid dangerous defects or defects that impair habitability.

How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out in Mississippi? ›

Three-day notice to pay rent or quit: When a tenant fails to pay rent on the due date, the landlord can give the tenant a written three-day notice to pay rent or quit (move out). This notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has three days to either pay rent or move out of the rental unit.

What does quiet enjoyment of a property mean? ›

It does not mean that the tenant has the right to enjoy a quiet property. Instead, it means that the tenant has the right to use their property without unreasonable or unnecessary interference from their landlord.

Can a landlord force eviction? ›

The landlord must apply to court to evict this tenant lawfully. Only court appointed bailiffs can enforce this. Under section 1 Protection from Eviction Act 1977, any individual who deliberately and unlawfully deprives the occupier of their occupation of this property is committing a criminal offence.

Do long term tenants have rights? ›

You have tenancy rights even if you've been given notice or owe rent. You do not need a written agreement to have tenancy rights. They continue until you end your tenancy voluntarily or are evicted through the legal process. Do not be pressured into giving up your home and your tenancy rights.

Can a landlord evict you without a court order in Mississippi? ›

This means that by signing the lease you agree that the landlord doesn't have to give you a notice. Mississippi allows landlords to evict tenants by self-help without a court order by a judge. However, the landlord can not breach the peace when conducting a self-help evicition.

Is Mississippi a landlord friendly state? ›

Mississippi is another landlord-friendly state, there's no limit for how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit, and landlords have 45 days to return the security deposit at the end of a tenancy. Mississippi also has a low cost of living, which means more purchasing power when it comes to buying property.

What are squatters rights in Mississippi? ›

Adverse possession laws in Mississippi

Under adverse possession law or “squatters' rights”, Mississippi squatters may be granted legal ownership over a property if they have been continuously possessing the land for 10 years and have met the required conditions.

What is anti-social Behaviour in housing? ›

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is 'behaviour by someone that is likely to cause alarm, distress or harassment to members of the public, not of the same household'. Examples of ASB include: Noise nuisance. Harassment.

Can my landlord evict me for no reason? ›

PRIVATE landlords are allowed to turf out tenants without any reason - and it's completely legal. The law - known as Section 21 - means a landlord can ask you to move out with two months notice, without needing a particular reason. And record number of renters are being evicted from their homes under these terms.

Can you be evicted for anti-social Behaviour? ›

Tenants – Possession Order

We can apply to the court for an 'order for possession', after first having served a notice on the tenant. This will be used in serious or more persistent cases of anti-social behaviour. The tenant may be evicted from their home if the case is proven and an order granted.

How do I ask my landlord for compensation? ›

Negotiate with your landlord

Explain why you think you are entitled to compensation. Follow up conversations with a letter or email. Keep copies. Consider reasonable offers from your landlord - including offers to reduce your rent.

What is a disrepair claim? ›

If you are a tenant, living in rented property which has fallen into disrepair, you may have a disrepair claim against your landlord. If your landlord has failed to repair faults or not kept the house in good condition you may find that your home becomes damaged.

How much is housing disrepair compensation? ›

How much is housing disrepair compensation? In terms of percentage, you could receive 25%-50% of the total cost of the damage as compensation.

Do landlords have a duty of care? ›

Your landlord owes you certain duties of care that are set out in this Act. They include a duty to prevent personal injury or damage to property caused by defects in your home. This duty is owed to you, members of your family, and also to visitors to your home.

What powers does the Housing Ombudsman have? ›

Their role is to help resolve disputes between tenants and their landlords which they can do in whatever way they think is most likely to work. If the designated person cannot help they can refer a complaint to the Ombudsman.

How long does a disrepair claim take? ›

How long does a housing disrepair claim take? Depending on the times allowed for landlord responses and procedural timeframes we usually experience cases that settle anywhere between 7-9 months from the initial customer meeting to the payment of compensation.

What city in AZ has the highest crime rate? ›

Arizona Crime Index City Rank
RankCrime Index ▲City / Population
1.197Colorado City, AZ / 4,816
2.541Florence, AZ / 26,513
3.671Oro Valley, AZ / 41,493
4.696Fredonia, AZ / 1,670
72 more rows

Whats the safest city in Arizona? ›

Top 10 safest places to live in Arizona
  • Paradise Valley.
  • Florence.
  • Sahuarita.
  • Gilbert.
  • San Luis.
  • Oro Valley.
  • Maricopa.
  • Surprise.
5 Aug 2022

Where is the most crime in Arizona? ›

Coolidge, AZ

In Coolidge, you have a 1 in 187 chance of being a victim of violent crime, 45% above the national average. Property crime is high too, at over 40% of the national average and 22% higher than the Arizona average.

How safe is living in Arizona? ›

With #1 being the best, Arizona is ranked #37 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C. You have a 2.44% chance of being a property crime victim in Arizona in the next 12 months. Arizona's property crime rate is 16% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.

Is Tucson safer than Phoenix? ›

Which city is safer, Tucson or Phoenix? Safety is likely a big concern when comparing Tucson versus Phoenix, especially if you're moving with kids. While both cities are about equal in terms of crime rate, Phoenix typically has lower rates for total crime, theft, property crime, and violent crime.

Is Phoenix safe to live? ›

How safe is Phoenix, AZ? The metropolitan area's violent crime rate was higher than the national rate in 2020. Its rate of property crime was higher than the national rate.

What is the most affordable city in Arizona? ›

10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Arizona
  • Sun City. A suburb northwest of Phoenix, this area is great for retirees. ...
  • Nogales/Rio Rico. Moving southeast towards the US/Mexico border, Nogales is known as the crossroads community. ...
  • Casa Grande. ...
  • Bullhead City. ...
  • Mayer. ...
  • Coolidge. ...
  • Mesa. ...
  • Tolleson/Phoenix.
5 Jan 2019

What city in Arizona has the least amount of crime? ›

San Luis, AZ

San Luis is a border town with a fast-growing population and was the only city in Arizona to report zero murders in 2020. The total crime rate is 46% below the national average, with a violent crime rate that's 73% below the rest of the US.

What state has highest crime rate? ›

District of Columbia. The District of Columbia has the highest crime rate in the United States, with a 999.8 crime rate per 100,000 people. According to me Metropolitan Police Department, homicides increase by 14% compared to 2021, robbery by 24%, burglary by 8%, and 4% in motor vehicle theft.

Where should you not live in Phoenix? ›

  • Top 10 Worst Neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona. 08 Aug 22:22. ...
  • Alahambra. 134,116 people dwell in this predominantly working-class community with strict borders. ...
  • Encanto. This calm area has a population of around 54,600 people. ...
  • South Mountain. ...
  • North Mountain. ...
  • Maryvale. ...
  • Estrella. ...
  • Camelback East.
8 Aug 2022

Where is the best place to move Arizona? ›

Here are the Top 10 best places to live in Arizona in Arizona, as featured in the 2022 edition of Ranking Arizona:
  • City of Peoria.
  • City of Scottsdale.
  • City of Mesa.
  • City of Chandler.
  • City of Phoenix.
  • City of Tempe.
  • Town of Queen Creek.
  • City of Flagstaff.
2 Aug 2022

What is the safest area to live in Arizona? ›

Florence is the number one safest city in Arizona for the third consecutive year. 90% of the cities made our list for the second year in a row, with Buckeye making its debut in the top 10 this year. 5 cities improved in rank this year: Buckeye, Maricopa, Prescott Valley, Sahuarita, and San Luis.

Where is the best and safest place to live in Arizona? ›

Safest Cities in Arizona, 2019
RankCitySafety Index
1Paradise Valley0.82
2Oro Valley0.8
36 more rows

Is it cheaper to live in Arizona or Florida? ›

Winner: Florida

Though similar, Florida's cost-of-living index score beats Arizona's, at 98.2 and 99.6, respectively. Both states are near the national average cost of living.


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