Who is responsible for repair and maintenance of the fireplaceand chimney in a rental home?

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Who is responsible for repair and maintenance of the fireplaceand chimney in a rental home?

I recently had the fireplace in the home I am renting cleaned. The chimney sweep found numerous problems. The chimney cap that was installed last month does not cover the chimney (it’s 6″ short); the chimney had a large piece of plywood stuck inside (fire hazard); there is no flue or damper; and a nest for critters was in the chimney. I paid for the cleaning ($200) but additional work is needed to prevent cold air and water from coming down the chimney ($600). My landlord is impossible to talk to but, who is responsible for care and proper maintenance of the chimney?

Asked on September 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is a really good thing that you investigated in to the chimney from the start.   First you need to look to your lease agreement to see what it states about repairs and the type of repairs.  It may state that repairs made over a certain amount are the responsibility of the landlord.  It may state that anything "structural" is the responsibility of the landlord. Anything that you break of course would be your responsibility.  Now, here is the other thing to consider.  If renting the house with a working fireplace was part of the basis of the bargain in taking the rental - and i really had to be - then a non-working fireplace could be a breach of the rental contract.  The other thing is if the chimney condition as is is a breach of the warranty of habitability then you may be able to bring the issue to a judge to decide about repair.  Good luck.


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