What do I do if my landlord won’t make repairs?

She won’t fix anything in the apartment and it has been 7 months since we moved in. We have holes in the walls and no screens in our windows. Also, I’m pregnant and she avoids me when I ask about de-leading the place. Additionally, our shower clogs up all the time, our toilet barely ever flushes, the electricity keeps blowing our TV’s, and we have mice. Due to the mice situation we got a cat. Her daughter said we broke our lease by getting a cat but technically did we ever really have a lease when our landlord never signed it? Her daughter forged her mom’s name.

Asked on March 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Speak with a landlord tenant attorney. There is something called the "implied warranty of habitability," which is the requirement that rental premises be fit for their intended purpose--for example, that they be fit for residence. Significant maintenance or health issues, like bad electical wiring, constant plumbling problems, rodent infestations, and holes in walls, can violate this warranty. When the warranty is violated, there are several options available to tenants, depending on the exact situation and tenant wishes:

1) monetary compensation for the time spent living with the issues;

2) a court order requiring repairs;

3) the ability for the tenant to make the repairs, then deduct the cost thereof from rent; and/or

4) terminating the lease without penalty.

You most likly have rights and recourse in this situation; you should discuss the matter with an attorney, so see exactly what your best options are.


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