What are my rights if the source of heat used in my rental was misrepresented?

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What are my rights if the source of heat used in my rental was misrepresented?

Before moving into my rental home my landlord was asked several times if the house was a totally electric home, meaning no gas was needed to heat the home. It had been explained to out landlord prior to viewing the home that we were interested in moving in a totally electric home to cut back on expenses. Last week when we contacted our landlord to ask how to turn on the heat she had no clue. Then she called back to say that the gas must be turned on from the outside. I explained to her my frustration with this because we discussed this issue before moving in and the lease states that the house is totally electric as well. When I mentioned the lease to her, I was told the same leases is used for all of her rental properties and she is unsure which homes are gas or totally electric. Is it fair to ask to be compensated for the cost of having gas turned on due to false information? What else can be done?

Asked on October 20, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you can reasonable prove that the landlord made a representation regarding heat to you prior to your  moving in and that this representation was a material part of your agreeing to rent the place, you might have grounds to either bring a claim for damages (as long as the lease does not have a clause in it saying that there are no other agreements, etc. affecting your tenancy; if it has that, often called a "merger clause," outside agreements can't affect the terms of the lease) or to possible even rescind the lease (i.e. void it) as the product of fraud--though this is clearly a drastic act.

1a) It is always fair to ask, of course; the question is, what rights do you have to force the matter if you need an choose to.

2) However, before acting, check how much it actually is or would be costing you. If the actual likely savings are small, you have to ask yourself if it's worth alienting your landlord, making a claim against her, or possibly even getting into litigation. I used to write for an energy website; usually, gas is the cheapest heating source, and even if it's not the cheapest, the price differential with electric heat may be too small to make getting into a contentious situation worthwhile.


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