If my home and garage are leakingwhen it rains, what are my landlord’s responsibilities and can I break my lease without repercussions?

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If my home and garage are leakingwhen it rains, what are my landlord’s responsibilities and can I break my lease without repercussions?

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) All rental properties come with what's called the "implied warranty of habitability"--the requirement that the property be "fit for its intended purpose," which in this case is residence.

2) Minor problems do not violate this warranty--so a small leak through the corner of one window when it rains would most likely not. Large problems can violate the warranty--so extensive leaks, especially if they damage the tenant's belongings, present mold risk or hazards, etc., could be violations.

3) Landlords must fix problems that violate the warranty; if they do not, the tenant may be entitled to monetary compensation and/or to break the lease.

4) First, send your landlord at least two sets of written notice, sent some way(s) you can prove delivery, asking him/her to fix the problems; after each one, you have to give him/her a reasonable time to take action. If the landlord will not, rather than just break the lease--which puts you in jeopardy if the landlord sues to enforce the lease and the court concludes the problem was not severe enough--sue the landlord: go to court for monetary compensation and a court order that he/she fixes the leaks; or for monetary compensation and a declaratory judgment stating that you are allowed to vacate.


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