What to do if I haven’t had hot water in my apartment for over 3 months and when I complainmy landlordtells me it’s a “work in progress”?

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What to do if I haven’t had hot water in my apartment for over 3 months and when I complainmy landlordtells me it’s a “work in progress”?

Got a new landlord about 4 months ago and have been having hot water issues since – very little (30 seconds worth) to no hot water at all. I have repeatedly tried to work with him on the issue but he is rude (vulgar language, insults, told me to leave if I don’t like it, ignored phone calls/messages about recurring problems, avoids communications, etc.). This has been going on for about 4 months now repeatedly, back and forth. He tells me that the hot water is a “work in progress.” I don’t have a lot of cash and don’t qualify for free legal aid. I don’t think I should continue paying rent.

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord is required to respond in a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs as occurred in your situation with the hot water, the tenant has the following remedies:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and teminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant remains on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is for the tenant to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  Failure to provide hot water would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.


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