If my apartment’s maintenance has completed over 4 failed work orders to rectify a water issue in my unit and they’re not offering compensation, what do I do?

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If my apartment’s maintenance has completed over 4 failed work orders to rectify a water issue in my unit and they’re not offering compensation, what do I do?

Asked on November 19, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the extent of the "water issue." Landlords only owe tenants compensation for 1) issues which affect habitability (the ability to actually use the premises as a residence) or 2) violate the lease (such as by not providing some amenity or feature called for in the lease). Minor problems that do not affect hability or breach the lease do not warrant or justify compensation.

If you believe that this is an issue which affects habitability or violates the lease, you could sue your landlord for compensation for the time you have lived with the issue, and/or for a court order requiring him to finally fix it. The compensation takes the form generally of a rent credit or abatement for the time the lease was violated or impaired, and will be related to the severity of the problem. For example: say the issue is a leak which has caused mold in one of two bedrooms in your apartment, so that that bedroom cannot safely be used. The rent credit would likely be the difference between the rent you are paying and the fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in your building or area. Say that difference in rent is $300 month, and you've lived with the issue for 4 months; appropriate compensation could therefore be $1,200.


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