What can we do if our landlord controls the heat and it is very cold in our apartment?

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What can we do if our landlord controls the heat and it is very cold in our apartment?

When looking at the place, he said that if we were cold to let him know and he would turn up the heat. We have asked him repeatedly and he makes excuses. He’s dragged his feet about options and he bought us 2 heaters and agreed to pay the difference in electric bill but has yet to do. While this sounds nice, the difference in the electric bill is nominal compared to the rather high rent we are paying to be uncomfortable. If we cannot be warm, we would at least like a rent reduction for the winter months. Is there anything of a legal basis that we can approach our landlord with to make him do something more?

Asked on January 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

How cold is cold? If the temperature is significantly below normal room temperature (around 64 degree Fahrenheit, give or take), then the landlord may be violating the "implied warranty of habitability," which is a legal rule that rental premises must be fit for their intended purpose (e.g. residence). A violation of this implied warranty could give you grounds for a court order directing the landlord to remediate the situation, and/or for compensation for the time you've been living in a too-cold apartment.

However, just being slightly uncomfortable would not give rise to recourse; the apartment must be so cold that the average reasonable person would consider that habitability is impaired.


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