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Ask Curbed: A Slight Sewage Problem

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A man in need of some help after a slight sewage problem (pictured: the great toilet house): "I live in a small studio apartment - very small. While I was at school a few days ago I got a call from my leasing office saying there was an emergency in my apartment and they needed to go in. I didn't think much of it, and went about my business. Later on, when I went home, I noticed the floor was slightly dirty. I talked to one of the maintenance workers who said my toilet overflowed, with raw sewage going everywhere on the floor. I was disgusted. The next day I stuck around just in case it happened again and, lo and behold, it did. I called the maintenance worker to help me clean up since it was getting everywhere, even the kitchen. Sewage got everywhere.

A plumber was contracted and it was discovered that there was 'a snake' (a long, metal tube inserted into backed up piping that clears backlog) in the plumbing piping that was causing the backups. It had broken off during an earlier plumbing incident, and instead of removing it from the piping, it was left in there, broken. The plumber also stated that from the amount of rust on 'the snake' it was easy to infer that it had been in the plumbing pipes for more than a few months.

I talked to one of the leasing managers, asking if there would be a cleanup, and she said yes. When I went next day to confirm the cleanup, she said there would be none since I didn't have homeowners insurance. Only the apartment below mine (where, apparently, sewage had seeped into) was to get a cleanup.

I'm curious as to what my rights are? Can I use this to terminate my lease? Is there any way I can get compensated for my soiled belongings?
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