Can a landlord make you sign a lease after you been living in a house after 3 months?

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Can a landlord make you sign a lease after you been living in a house after 3 months?

The landlord is upset with us and refuses to hook up the baseboard heaters upstairs. Now due to us not letting him have the room in our basement, can he do this? It is so cold upstairs that I have had 4 cold in 2 months now.

Asked on December 31, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, the landlord can require  you to now execute a written lease. If you did not have a lease, you were a month-to-month tenant on an oral lease; that means the landlord could give you 30 days notice terminating your current tenancy and thereafter only rent to you if you sign the lease.

2) The landlord has to provide a residential unit fit for habitation. If the lack of the upstairs baseboard heater has caused the home temperature to drop below what is considered reasonable winter room temperature, the landlord may be violating the "implied warranty of habitability"; if so, that could provide grounds for you to seek monetary compensation (e.g. a partial rent credit, for the time habitability has been impaired) or even, in more extreme cases, justify the withholding of rent until heat is restored (then you'd have to pay all the rent, including back rent) or the termation  of the rental without penalty (e.g. let you move out). If you think this may be the case, you should discuss your options with a landlord-tenant attorney.


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