CanI sueif Idon’t have a lease butdohave a contract and rent receipts?

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CanI sueif Idon’t have a lease butdohave a contract and rent receipts?

My landlord snatched the circuit breaker out of the house. He was mad because we threatened to not pay rent because he had us in there with no hot water, a leaking toilet leaking, clogged sink and wet ceiling. It was too much.

Asked on February 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract between landlord and tenant.  You are paying rent, have rent receipts and have the contract and have all the rights of a tenant.

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time and make the necessary repairs, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent or if the tenant remains on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  You might also want to consider contacting the local housing code inspector to start an enforcement action against the landlord.  The problems with the rental you have described are health and safety issues which constitute breaches of the implied warranty of habitability.


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