What to do about back owed rent, a broken furnace and an eviction?

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What to do about back owed rent, a broken furnace and an eviction?

I am currently renting a single family home I had fallen behind in my rent and have been making payments every 2 weeks in order to catch up. I am currently less than one month behind. Over 5 weeks ago the furnace went out. On several occassions the landlord stated she was getting it replaced. After the last promise was made and nothing happened I was told that the furnace went not be repaired until rent was current. Within 48 hours I received a 5 day notice. The landlord told me that she wanted to start showing the property. I told her that under these circumstances I would not allow her to do this. I have a 12 year old daughter who lives with me. Is this legal?

Asked on December 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You and your landlord are each in breach of your respective lease obligations:

You must pay rent (there is no law allowing you to get behind and then catch up over time), and you  also have to let the landlord show the premises for the purpose of renting or selling it.

The landlord must provide premises that are habitable and "fit for their intended purpose," or residence. This means she must provide heat and cannot refuse to repair the furnace due to you being behind on rent.

You could go to your local landlord-tenant court and seek "emergent relief" (think: urgent or emergency) in the form of a court order requiring the landlord to fix the furnace. Be aware, though, that the court may require you to pay ALL the back rent in order to get this relief, or at least to deposit it with the court for safe-keeping, pending the repair of the furnace. It is possible that if you do not have all the rent you owe, that the court will allow a nonpayment eviction to go ahead. Therefore, if at all possible, before seeking relief via this route, make sure you have all the money you owe--or alternately, take this as an opportunity to seek another residence.


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