How can I enforce that my landlords hold up to his end of the lease?

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How can I enforce that my landlords hold up to his end of the lease?

My landlord has written in our contract things in the house which he will fix and replace. However, he has neglected to do anything of the sort. Every time we try to contact him, we get ignored or yelled at if we’re even lucky enough that they answer the phone. We just moved in last month and signed a 1 year lease. We even sat down with them and had dates written down to as to when things would get done. I am beyond tired and stressed over this. What can I do to force them to hold up their end of the contract?

Asked on June 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Utah

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.  Not all maintenance items are housing code violations constituting a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  You did not say what the specific items are to be repaired, but if they involve health or safety, they are probably housing code violations constituting a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, 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 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 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.

Again, not all maintenance problems rise to the level of a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.


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