If my ceiling is leaking and my only working toilet is not usable, doI have to pay rent?

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If my ceiling is leaking and my only working toilet is not usable, doI have to pay rent?

My landlord hasn’t repaired anything. I’ve had to stay at friend’s house with 2 kids. Meanwhile my carpet outside the restroom has been flooded with sewer water and tracked through my house.

Asked on November 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Since you had to move from your rental, you may be able to terminate your lease based what is known as "constructive eviction". In addition, you might obtain a refund of your security deposit and have a legal claim for any costs you incur as a result of your move. There is also the potential for you to recover your attorney's fees, if any.  Any documentation that you may have will add to the strength of your claim (e.g. photos, health department inspection, etc).

In the alternative, you can claim a breach of the "warranty of habitability" (this is a guarantee that is implied in every residential lease). What this means is that a tenant must be given a safe and sanitary premises in which to live. You have several options for such a breach. You can: terminate your lease (and get security deposit returned); withhold rent until the repairs are made; or make the repair yourself and the deduct the cost from the rent.

At this point, you need to consult directly with an attorney in your area who specializes in landlord-tenant matters. At the very least, you can contact a tenants' right advocacy group. If you attempt any of the above legal remedies you must be certain of your rights under applicable state law. The consequence of wrongfully using these self-help measures could cost you.  


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