What are my rights if my landlord is extremely slow with maintenance requests and my unit is uninhabitable?

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What are my rights if my landlord is extremely slow with maintenance requests and my unit is uninhabitable?

I have had an endless amount of problems in the 3 months that I’ve lived here. Our entire building went without hot water for 8 whole days last month. By state law, this qualifies as inhabitable. Can I go after them in small claims court or seek some form of compensation? More importantly, if I do take them to court, will I stand a chance?

Asked on September 1, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As you seem to know, only conditions that affect habitabilty provide grounds for a legal action. If habitability is impaired, tenants can theoretically seek compensation for the time the unit was uninhabitable. The question is, whether it is worthwhile doing so.

For example: you say you had no hot water for 8 days. A court would be unlikely to totally abate or rebate your rent for that time, since people can (and do) live without hot water. Say the court concludes that without hot water, then, you should receive 1/2 your rent back for that time period. Say your rent is $900 per month, or approximately $30 per day. 1/2 that is $15 per day. $15/day for 8 days is $120...you would need to decide if the cost, time, effort and worsened landlord relations that would result from bringing a lawsuit would be worth it to potentially recover that amount.


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