What can my daughter do if her rental has a badly leaking roof?

Shortly after she moved in, about 1 1/2 months ago, it rained and she noticed the roof was leaking pretty badly, mainly in her closet. She called the property management office immediately and filled out the form they asked her to complete. The owner sent someone over once, who looked at it, and put a tarp on the roof. The owner has come over a couple of times, usually after she has called again to ask about fixing the roof. When it rains, the water streams down the wall in her closet, right around the breaker box. Since the beginning of last month, the owner has been saying he is waiting for materials. Today, he says he is trying to get a roofing company to take the job.

Asked on November 12, 2015 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Your daughter can try withholding all or a portion of rent until the repairs are made; landlords are obligated by the "implied warranty of habitability" to have premises that are fit and safe for their intended uses (e.g. as residence) and rain pouring into a closet, around a breaker box, would seem to be a violation of that obligation. If your daughter does this, she MUST save the money and be prepared to deposit it with the court, if the landlord seeks to evict her; the court will likely require her to deposit the money with it, to show that she has the rent (and has deliberately withheld it due to the failure to repair, as opposed to not being able to pay and using repairs as an excuse); she must comfortable with possibly being brought into court and with receiving an eviction notice; and she has to understand that once the repairs are made, most (and possibly all) of the rent will be released to the landlord.


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