If my heat has been out for about 2 months and my landlord will not repair it after 2 requests, is there anything that I can do?

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

Answers:

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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

At this time of year, 2 months without heat is not reasonable. And since every lease as what is known as an "implied warranty of habitability", if your rental is rendered inhabitable (unlivable), you as a tenant have certain rights. 

First of all, since such a long period of time has elapsed and water is essential to live in a residence, you may be able to claim "constuctive eviction".  If you have to move out you may a legal claim for any costs you incur (such a hotel; extra travel time; storing belongings; etc.). Additionally, you may also obtain a court order that allows you to move back in after the problem has been corrected. 

At the very least, this is a situation of the breach of the "warranty of habitability". This is an implied guarantee in every residential lease that provides for a tenant to be given a sanitary and safe premises. For such a breach you have certain rights: you can fix the problem and charge the landlord for reimbursement; you can withhold any your rent until the heat is restored; or choose to end your tenancy and move (in which case your landlord will be liable for your moving expenses). 

However, before pursuing any of these self-help rmeasures you should to consult with a local attorney who handles landlord-tenant cases. If you don't follow the proper procedures for attempting any of these actions, you could be held liable financially. 

Note: You should also report the situation to your local housing code enforcement officer; they can take action against your landlord until they resolve the problem.


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