If we’re renting a house and the fireplace flu gate is broken and is allowing cold air to constantly flow in, is the landlord obligated to fix it?

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If we’re renting a house and the fireplace flu gate is broken and is allowing cold air to constantly flow in, is the landlord obligated to fix it?

The house we are renting was built over 60 years ago. We are renting it from the landlord through a property management company. The landlord has already refused our request to fix the fireplace and now she is having the management company have us sign a document stating that we are not allowed to use the fireplace. We have a gas heater but we cannot heat up the house due to the chimney being wide open to the freezing winter air outside.

Asked on December 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Every residential lease contains a guarantee of sorts known as the "implied covenant of habitability". Basically what his means is that if a tenant is not given both a clean and safe premises in which to live they have certain legal rights and remedies available to them. They are:   

  • Repair and deduct - fix the problem and then charge your landlord for reimbursement; 
  • Withhold rent - withhold any further rental payments until the heat is restored; or
  • Terminate the lease - choose to end your tenancy and move. 

However, be aware that before attempting any of these remedies you should first need to speak with a lawyer.  If you fail to follow the proper procedures for pursuing any of these self-help measures you could be sued.  Accordingly, you should consult with an attorney that specializes in landlord-tenant matters.


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