If my landlord won’t make repairs, can I move out?

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If my landlord won’t make repairs, can I move out?

My rentals garage doors were rotting and falling apart. A part fell on my daughter when she opened it. It didn’t hurt her, just a chunk fell on her. I notified my landlord by calling her. She asked me for pictures so I sent them to her. I then notified her in writing. She told me that there was no budget for repairs and to just shut the garage doors and not use them. I looked on-line for info on landlord/tenant laws and I found info saying that I could move if repairs weren’t done. So I notified her that I needed to move due to repairs not being made. She said OK. Now she is making it difficult.

Asked on September 16, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your landlord has a duty to maintain and keep "habitable" that portion of the premises that is covered under the rental agreement.  If the garage is part of the rental agreement then it must be maintained much like the rest of the house.  If it is in such disrepair that it is dangerous (and it surely sounds so) then it is time for you to take action.  You could repair it yourself and deduct the amount but sometimes courts do not look too kindly on that. I would instead suggest that you go down to the court that deals with landlord tenant issues in your area and ask to start a proceeding to deal with the matter and to deposit the money in to court.  This will prompt her to find the money in her budget.  Or, if you choose, you can consider yourself "constructively evicted" by her failing to make needed repairs and move.  Then she may start a proceeding against you for breach of the lease and for the rent. Seek help in your area.  Good luck. 


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