If I’m a renter and my heater broke 5 days ago, how long does the landlord have to repair it?

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If I’m a renter and my heater broke 5 days ago, how long does the landlord have to repair it?

-Ohio resident

Our furnace broke 5 days ago. We sent in a request for it to be fixed the next day. The HVAC guy sent by our landlord looked at it and said we need a new furnace. We heard nothing from the landlord on 2ndtried contacting multiple times. Today the HVAC guy came to install the new furnace around and left at 2 pm. The HVAC guy said he cant fix it today because of a problem with the air conditioner. No parts need to be order just labor. The temperature throughout the house is currently below freezing and the temperature outside is -8. Is it reasonable for the landlord to go another day without fixing it considering the circumstances?

Asked on January 3, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard-and-fast timeline: the landlord's responsibility is to promptly take reasonable steps once the issue is reported, which this landlord has evidently done. The law does not hold the landlord legally responsible for delays beyond the landlord's control (such as delays in getting parts, or due to the complexity of the required repairs, or the contractor being unavailable, etc.) or for environmetal factors (e.g. the outside temperature) also beyond the landlord's control. As long as the landlord brought in a reputable contractor to address the problem, the landlord is doing what the law requires.
The above said, you are entitled to a rent "abatement" (rebate or credit) for any days that the unit is essentially uninhabitable due to lack of heat (it may not be 100% of each day's rent, but should be a significant portion for lack of heat). If the repairs take too long, you could very likely use this (the lack of habitability, so so violation of the "implied warranty of habitability," or legal obligation to provide rentals that are fit to live in) as legal justification to terminate your lease early without penalty.


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