If I’m renting a house but we have no water and the landlord refuses to drill a new well, what can we do?

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If I’m renting a house but we have no water and the landlord refuses to drill a new well, what can we do?

Asked on October 1, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If there is no water at the premises then this would be a case of "constructive eviction". If you have to vacate you may a legal claim for any costs you incur (such a hotel; extra travel time; storage; etc.) and you can also get a court order allowing you to move back in if and after the situation has been corrected.  Further, there is the potential for you to recover your attorney's fees. You may also be entitled to other remedies, depending upon applicable state law.

Additionally, at the least, this is a breach of what is known as the "warranty of habitability". This is a right that is implied in every residential lease that provides that a tenant must be given a sanitary and safe premises. For this you have certain rights. Again, you can terminate your lease, as well as withhold rent until the repair is made, or you make the repair yourself deduct the cost from your rent (although this would be an expensive option).

Note: If you attempt any of the above remedies, you must be certain of your legal rights under your applicable state law. So before doing anything you need to consult with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant matters or at least speak with a tenants right advocacy group.


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