Can my landlord make me fix the heater?

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Can my landlord make me fix the heater?

Or kick me out for wanting him to fix it? I told my landlord last month about the heat being broken. He said he would fix it and never came back. What can I do?

Asked on February 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every residential lease there an "implied warranty of habitability". Basically, this gives a tenant the right to live in a safe and sanitary premises.  Providing heat is included in this.

If a landlord refuses to perform repairs necessary to make a rental habitable, a tenant can:    

  1. Repair and Deduct - Fix the problem and then charge the landlord for the cost of repair;
  2. Terminate the lease - End the tenancyand vacate the premises; or
  3. Withhold Rent - Refuse to make any further rental payments until the repair is properly made.

However, before a tenant should pursue any of these remedies, they should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney or tenant's rights organization.  If a tenant fails to follow the proper procedures for attempting these self-help measures, they could be held liable for breach of their lease. 

Note:  Depending on your income, you could also ask Legal Aid for assistance or the state/county bar association.  A  local law school clinic might also be of help to you.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

OK so you tried to deal with your landlord on a one to one basis and it did not work. So what you can now do is to go down to court and to start a proceeding for a breach of the warranty of habitability for the apartment and to ask the court to allow you to pay your rent in to court until the problem is fixed AND for a rent abatement (reduction) for the time that you have had no heat. I guarantee you that once the courts are involved and he is not getting any rent he will fix the problem.  If he does not then the courts have remedies for you and one of which is to allow you to break your lease and move.  Good luck to you.


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