What canI do if the heater in my rental housestopped working and the landlord refuses to fix it?

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What canI do if the heater in my rental housestopped working and the landlord refuses to fix it?

My heater stopped working in November. I have told my landlord and she tried to come out to light it with no success. After about a week of having her friends and kids come by to try to light it, she finally called a professional. He gave her an estimate and now she tells me she has no money to fix it. I have been staying there for 3 months and every month she has gotten her rent. So I’m lost when she says that she has no money. I sent her a certified letter as of last week saying that I want it fixed by tomorrow. What’s my next step if I don’t hear from her?

Asked on December 13, 2010 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means that the landlord must maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  Since your heater is not working in the winter, this would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

You could sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  When there is  a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease.  If the tenant decides to stay on the premises when there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.


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