If it’s been 35° inside of my apartment, what are my rights?

My landlord was informed of the lack of heat almosta month ago. It still hasn’t been done and is cold again tonight. I’ve also been without water for a week.

Asked on January 27, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The first thing that you need do is to contact the housing code enforcement officer in your area. They can fine and take other action against your landlord until the problem is resolved. Additionally, since a week has passed without your having any heat and/or water and landlord has yet to take any action, you may have a case of "constructive eviction". If you are forced to move out due to this situation, you may a legal claim for any relted expenses (such a hotel; extra travel time to work; storing belongings; etc.). Further, you can also get a court order allowing you to move back in after the problems have been corrected. You may also be entitled to other remedies, depending upon the lws of your state.

At the very least, this is a breach of the "warranty of habitability", which is an implied guarantee in every residential lease. It provides that a tenant to be given a sanitary and safe premises in which to live. Accordingly, you have certain rights. You can terminate your lease, withhold rent until the repair is made or make the repair yourself and the deduct the cost from your rent.

However, before pursuing any of these self-help remedies you should consult with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant cases. If you attempt any of the above measures you must be certain of your legal rights under specific state law.


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