Can I sue if I have rented a home for the past 4 years and the A/C has broken down every year for multiple times every year?

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Can I sue if I have rented a home for the past 4 years and the A/C has broken down every year for multiple times every year?

The landlord was told the house needs 2 units, it only has 1. Yearly the unit breaks down multiple times a year during the summer for anywhere between 2 days to several weeks. The landlord has a home owners warranty he uses and they have been to my home for 4 times since the 24th of last month and I am without A/C again which will make it 5 times. He does not take anything off the rent or make any accommodation for the discomfort. My 69 year old mother is home all day without any air. I have lost time from work and sleepless nights being that my bedroom is upstairs and I am unable to sleep.

Asked on June 14, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You may be able to sue. All leases come with an implied warranty of habitability, which is the requirement that the rental premises be "fit for their intended purpose"--in this case, for use as a residence. In GA, failure to provide A/C could be violation of this warranty, at least for portions of the summer. In addition, if the lease states you have a home with A/C, a failure to keep it in good working shape or to provide adequate A/C could be a violation of the lease as well.

You would potentially be eligible for a rent abatement--pro rate reduction of the rent--for the period of time you are without eligible A/C. The reduction would be equal in value to the difference in rent between the home with A/C and what it would rent for if specifically rented without A/C.  For example: say you pay $1,500 per month. Say that a similarly sized and located home, with no A/C, would have a fair-market rental value of $1,200 per month. Say that the A/C is down for 4 weeks one summer, durin peak heat: for that year, your potential claim would be $300.

You cannot receive compensation for any months during which you do not need A/C, or for times during the suummer when it is working. Therefore, it is not clear that it would be worthwhile to bring a lawsuit as a practical matter, but, as noted, you may have a legal claim you could try to pursue if so inclined.


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