As people here in Michigan are aware, landlord-tenant disputes can happen anywhere; and although many of them can be resolved without assistance from legal representation, some cases are simply too difficult to sort out without the help of a court judge.

This will likely be the case for residents in a New York apartment building who have filed a lawsuit against their landlord to reclaim money they claim to have paid in their rent for services they did not have access to for almost seven months.

The complain stems from an August 2011 incident in which an electrical fire tore through parts of the apartment building, condemning 14 units and leaving the remaining 58 without cooking gas for stoves until February 2012. A spokesperson for the apartment building says that normally, maintenance issues like this are handled as soon as possible, but claims that tenants were instructed to deny access to their units by the group Community Action for Safe Apartments.

A lawyer currently handling the case believes that the tenant is using the denied access as an excuse for not making the repairs quickly and has openly accused the property owner of “circulating … scurrilous statements.”

The 30 tenants involved in the lawsuit have filed their complaint with a small claims court and have requested that the tenant repay them one-third of the rent paid during the months without gas.

Michigan residents are no strangers to landlord-tenant disagreements such as this. When one side is constantly pointing the finger at the other party, placement of blame can often times get misplaced. That’s why in situations like this it’s always a good idea to get help from a real estate law expert who can get sort out disputes like this before they turn into ugly court cases down the road.

Source: The New York Daily News, “Tenants at 1520 Sheridan Ave. in Mount Eden seek rent abatement for seven months without cooking gas,” Kerry Wills, Jan. 18, 2013

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