My Landlord is not ready to make repairs

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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My Landlord is not ready to make repairs

My landlord isn’t making repairs to our unit. We stay a 2bed, 1.75 bath and we
are not able to open the bathroom door thats attached to the master bedroom as
the door does not sit on the railing. Our microwave’s door hinge has also come
off the door and our landlord says that it didn’t happen due to wear tear. We
have been staying here for the past 1.5 years now. Please help us understand more
about our rights.

Asked on June 17, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You may not have any rights to force  repairs: the law only obligates landlords to make repairs that affect "habitability," or the ability to essentially safely and healthily live in the unit. Typical repairs that must be made are broken external doors (no security), lack of heat or hot water, lack of A/C in hotter climates in summer, mold conditions, major leaks or holes in roofs/windows, etc. However, a broken microwave door would, in my experience, definitely not qualify as a habitability issue; a jammed bathroom door *might*--but if there are other bathrooms and/or you can get into the bathoom (even if the door doesn't work correctly), I can see certain judges ruling that it, too, is not a habitability issue.
More to the point, there is no good way to even try to compel the landlord to make these repairs. You could withhold rent for lack of repairs, then be brought to court for nonpayment of rent, have to defend yourself in court on the grounds that there was an impairment of habitability, and possilbly lose; or you could make the repairs, deduct the cost of the repairs from rent, and again possibly end up in landlord-tenant court for not paying your full rent.
Your best bet may be to ask your landlord if she will voluntarily give you some rent credit if you pay for the repairs: even if she doesn't give 100% credit, this could be a win-win, since the repairs get made, you pay relatively little (or nothing, if you get a 100% credit) for them, and she doen't have to go to the trouble of arranging for repairs. If you do get agreement from her, get the agreement in writing, even if only email or a text message.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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