If our landlord failed to make our rental healthyand habitable, are we responsible for unpaid utility bills?

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If our landlord failed to make our rental healthyand habitable, are we responsible for unpaid utility bills?

We are on a month-to-month rental agreement. Landlord hasn’t wanted to fix the serious black mold continuing to grow in the garage/laundry room 4 ft from the house since we took residence in 6 months ago. Asked them on the phone, in person, and certified mail. We are moving due to this serious health risk. I have pictures and paperwork. Also, they want us to pay propane bills from the last 2 months but which they never brought to me until this month. Although our roommate went almost 2 weeks without heat becauseit took our landlord forever to come and fix the heater. Do we have to pay the past due bills they failed to give us?

Asked on February 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You have to pay for that which you agreed.  But here is the thing: each dwelling (and each lease) comes with it what is known as an implied warranty ofhabitability, meaning that the landlord warrants that the dwelling is free of mold, has heat, free of pests, etc.  If the apartment is not inhabitable then you have a right to go to court and request that the court force the landlord to fix the problems, pay your rent in to court and to ask for an abatement of the rent.  If the landlord does not or can not fix the problem then the court can let you out of your lease.  Now, since you are a month to month that is not really a problem for you.  But you may be sued for the propane bills.  When you are, you bring up the uninhabitability issue and ask for an abatement then.  Good luck.


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