Does the landlord have to provide heat in my rental unit?

Our furnace has not run for 1 week and temps have been going down into the 20s at night.

Asked on November 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the law, all rental units come with what is called the "implied warranty of habitability," or the obligation to provide a unit that is fit for its intended purpose, or safely inhabitable. A lack of heat and temperatures dipping into the 20s would violate this warranty. A violation of the warranty could provide the tenant with grounds to seek a rent abatement or credit for the days that the unit is uninhabitable; seek a court order forcing the landlord to fix the problem (though if the issue is beyond the landlord's control, such as utilities being too tied up with post-Sandy repairs to get to it, then the court order is meaningless; courts can't make landlords do the impossible); and/or terminate the lease early without penalty. Since the exact circumstances are critical to determining what the tenant is entitled to, you should consult in detail with an attorney.


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