What can I do if landlord does not make repairs to the house?

We have went over a month with an hot water heater not working properly, went 2 weeks without a working toilet, now we have a busted water pipe and the landlord said to call after 5 pm the next day and he may or may not be out to look at it.. Did say he would bring out pumps to get rid of the water. Now while waiting for all the repairs we have to go to family and friends to do person hygiene and to make sure our two year old can be taken care of properly. What can we do to get things repaired quickly when the landlord is not?

Asked on August 19, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

Janet Martin / Janet Martin Attorney at Law

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This one sounds like you definitely need a lawyers letter written; if you can not afford one, at a minimum write LL yourself indicating the exact problems, the days you have already complained to LL, and LL's reply, and the fact you  are having to virtually live at a relative's house BECAUSE THE HOUSE YOU ARE RENTING IS UNLIVEABLE. THose are the key words, especially if the toilet is the only one. Even if you have a 2nd toilet, the hot water is essential to liveable conditions under any reasonable standard. State that by LL not fixing right away you are considered "constructively evicted" and not liable for rent during the timeframe the house is unliveable. If you stoped paying rent and moved out you would have a good defense, to any lawsuit for more rent, and seems like your LL is completely unresponsive so you might consider this. If you stop paying rent and stay and LL sues to evict you, this should be a slam dunk defense, but I can not guarantee that. Not paying rent would certainly get LL's attention, and your letter might threaten that as well...He may threaten eviction back to you but he knows there is no way he can re-rent the property with no hot water heater so after no rent until you move out, it will sit empty until he does replace it..LL would rather have a paying tenant; I think you have a good case in any event. Put it all in writing or get an attorney to do so. Call local court and ask for any department that has free legal services for this sort of thing.


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