A Denver landlord is facing a class-action lawsuit over its failed pest control policies.
Tenants at the large multi-family property allege that the complex was overrun by rats, and then tenants came into contact with carelessly applied pesticide.
In a news report, one tenant claims that rats ate into electrical systems in his car. An employee then allegedly instructed the tenant to wrap electrical tape around the chewed wires, which prompted the airbag to deploy, cracking the windshield. The tenant’s daughter narrowly escaped injury.
Other tenants claim to have experienced car fires, and one family found a dead rat in their car.
According to the allegations, once the landlord attempted to quell the rat infestation, rat poison was scattered around the property in a careless manner in areas where people and pets were present. A tenant claims that she was exposed to pesticide in the hot tub, and now is suffering hair loss.
Within days of distributing the poison, dead rats began to appear throughout the complex, and tenants complained that management was slow to remove the bodies. One tenant alleges that a manager sought to silence him from speaking out about the problem, even threatening him with eviction.
Managers allegedly told tenants that the building insurance would cover the damage, but tenants say they have not received any payments.
The tenants are suing for negligence, as well as deceit. These claims can generate punitive damages, which could significantly increase any judgment awarded.
Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, the landlord already is experiencing unfavorable publicity from the news coverage as well as comments from disgruntled tenants. That can have a very real and negative affect on the quality of tenants who apply for vacancies.
In this case, reviewers who don’t live at the complex are chiming in, citing other commenters as authority that the complex has a pest control problem.
Also, commenters are broadening the scope of complaints against the management to include items like an alleged spider infestation — a tenant’s cat got sick from eating too many — as well as a number of security complaints. Once that negative spiral begins, it is difficult to overcome and restore the reputation of the community.
Obviously, prevention is the best strategy, which means addressing tenant complaints as soon as possible, inspecting the property regularly to catch issues before they spread, and working with existing tenants to avoid angry rants on the Internet that are viewed by prospective renters for years to come.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.