What to do if my rental house has major structural issues that my landlord is choosing to ignore?

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What to do if my rental house has major structural issues that my landlord is choosing to ignore?

My chimney is pulling away from my home. After months and months of bugging my landlords, they are finally going to have it fixed. However, when the masonry guys came, they told my landlord the whole brick wall needs to be taken down because it is pulling away from the home and that even though it looks like the chimney is the problem, it actually is not the real problem. My landlord told the masonry guy that he knows about it but to only fix the chimney. Is this something that he can refuse to have fixed, especially now that he has been told by a professional and I have been made aware?

Asked on October 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot refuse to allow this repair.

If the structural issue affects your safety (and not merely your comfort, or the resale value of the home, or whether the home is code compliant--it must actually affect safety or habitability) and the landlord refuses to address it after notice of the issue and a reasonable opportunity to take action, then you may have a cause of action for breach of the "implied warranty of habitabilty," or the obligation, placed on all landlords, to only rent premises that are "fit for the intended purpose" and safely inhabitable. If this warranty is breached, you could potentially terminate your lease without penalty and move out, or else sue the landlord for compensation. Because it can be tricky to enforce this warranty, it is advised you consult with an attorney before doing anything.


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