What Can I Do If I’m Dealing with a Slumlord?

Derelict houses on a residential street with boarded up windows and decaying crumbling walls

Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation, which means that we have a lot of people that live in government-subsidized housing. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with living in government-subsidized housing, too often landlords take advantage of the situation and allow their tenants to live in deplorable living conditions. To me, these landlords are really slumlords. Here are some of the things that you may see when you are dealing with a slumlord:

  • Roofs or ceilings that are not repaired or are constantly leaking
  • Air conditioning or heating units that are unrepaired for weeks or months
  • Appliances that constantly break down or go a long time without repairs
  • Air filters that are never replaced
  • There is mold growing on walls or ceilings
  • There is not enough security around the rental property
  • Mice, snakes, and other small animals are constantly getting into your apartment
  • You have to make repairs yourself

These are just some of the typical things that a person sees when they are dealing with a slumlord. So what can you do about it? Well, as it turns out, you may be able to do a lot more than you realize.

Mississippi has several laws concerning the relationship between a landlord and a tenant. Under Mississippi law, if a landlord fails to make a necessary repair, then the tenant can make the repair and deduct the cost from his or her rent, provided certain other conditions are met. Depending on the situation, the landlord may actually be in breach of the rental agreement, which means that the tenant may even be able to move out (once again, provided other conditions are met).

Landlords have a duty to provide a reasonably safe rental unit, make repairs, and otherwise take care of their tenants. Too often, though, a tenant is forced to remain in horrible living conditions, and as a result of the landlord not fulfilling his duty, the tenant suffers some sort of harm. In those situations, a tenant could potentially sue the landlord for negligence. For example: let’s say that a tenant has been dealing with a leaky roof. She notified the landlord, and the landlord never sent anyone out to look at or repair the leak. After a few weeks or months, the leak continues, and the ceiling falls through, hurting the tenant. Let’s also say that because of the constant moisture from the leak, mold starts forming, and the tenant starts getting sick from exposure to the mold. In a situation like that, there is a decent likelihood that the tenant has a personal injury action against the landlord because of the landlord’s negligence. The measure of those damages depends on the facts of each case.

Regardless, though, no one should be forced to live in horrible conditions, especially when it is the responsibility of the landlord to make sure that his tenants are safe.