Can we sue our landlord for not taking care of repairs and not handing certain issues?

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Can we sue our landlord for not taking care of repairs and not handing certain issues?

They are a health hazard to my family? She also doesn’t have a copy of our lease we have the original we keep trying to give it to her and ends up giving it back to us Then we are having issues with no hot water and our lighting fixtures weren’t even fixed nothing was fixed when we moved in try to change light bulbs and they sparked at us and now they won’t come out and have stopped working and our electricity cuts out about 3 to 4 times a month and has been doing this since we moved in 8 months ago and we have called her and called her but she never answers and never returns our calls.

Asked on July 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

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 lack of hot water and the electrical hazards you mentioned), the tenant notifies the landlord 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, the tenant has the following remedies:  The tenant can make the repairs (hire a plumber and an electrician in your situation) and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant stays 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 can also contact your local housing code inspector, who can bring an enforcement action against the landlord for housing code violations.


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