What to do if my lanlord/cousin offered to let me move into her house with her for $200 a month but she’s since moved out and now she refuses to turn the heat above 60 degrees?

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What to do if my lanlord/cousin offered to let me move into her house with her for $200 a month but she’s since moved out and now she refuses to turn the heat above 60 degrees?

I live in the basement where it is now 52 degrees, with electric heater on. What can/can’t I do?

Asked on January 23, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

She has to provide heat: all landlords are required to provide rental premises that are "fit for their intended purpose," or for residence, and a lack of heat violates that obligation. (The obligation is called the "implied warranty of habitability.") If the landlord does not do this, you could potentially bring a court action to force her to provide heat, or else withhold rent if she won't provide heat, or move out early without penalty.

Bear in mind that if you do not have a written lease, you are a month to month tenant; either you or your landlord can terminate the tenancy on one month's notice. You could therefore move out, if you like.


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