Is a landlord required to repair air-conditioning?

I am renting this house from a friend, with no rental contract. Before I moved into the house, she told me the house had a window AC unit. After I insisted that she install the unit so I could use it, she informed me that if the unit broke, it would not be replaced. It has broken. It is in the mid 90’s. Does WV law require that she repair the AC? And if she does not, can I have it repaired and withhold the cost from the rent?

Asked on July 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The law does not specifically require A/C. All rentals do have what's called the "implied warranty of habitability," which requires landlords to maintain rental premises in such fashion that they are fit for their intented purposes--i.e. to be lived in. However, that does not require them them to be comfortable--just inhabitable. Temperatures in the mid-90s may not be high enough to violate this warranty, and if they do not rise to the level of rendering the premises uninhabitable, then you would not be entitled to any compensation or to take legal action.

With an oral lease (no written contract), either you or the landlord (if you prove to be a difficult tenant) may terminate the tenancy on 30 days notice. Rather than attempt to take legal action, when your right to do so is not clear, you may be better off--

1) Providing notice and finding another place to live; or

2) Ask the landlord if you could install your own A/C, one which you would own and take with you when you leave--if she says yes, buy one, install it, and take it with you when you go (make sure you get the landlord's agreement in writing, to avoid later misunderstandings).


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