What can I do if my landlord is not fixing the problems that I have with my apartment?

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What can I do if my landlord is not fixing the problems that I have with my apartment?

I just rented an apartment a week ago. Second day living in the unit realized that the refrigerator, the bath and almost every light in the apartment does’t work. I have been trying to reach the landlord and he is not responsive at all and I am living without all the mentioned above. I would like to know my rights urgently because the landlord is not fixing the problems and not answering the phone. I’m not sure I can do but there has to be something to protect myself from such an abusive treatment.

Asked on July 5, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Residential leases contain something an "implied warranty of habitability", which is a kind of guarantee. Basically, it means that a landlord must give a tenant a safe and sanitary place in which to live. If they don't, then the landlord is in breach of the lease.
Accordingly, you could break your lease by claiming "constructive eviction". This occurs when a when a condition exists on a rental property that makes it impossible or extremely difficult to live there. In other words, the property is "uninhabitable." And a non-working bath would qualify. At this point, you will have to send a notice to your landlord (make it certified mail, RRR) and tell them that if the problem is not remedied, you are moving out. There are more steps to the process but it varies from state-to-state. You also have the option to do the following:

Repair and deduct (fix the problem and subtract the cost from your rent); or
Withhold your rent until your landlord repairs the problems; or
Break your lease. In order to do this, you can't just leave, you'll need to go to housing court and file an action for the breach of the warranty of habitability. The court will allow the landlord to repair the problems but if they cannot, you can then ask the court to terminate your lease.

At this point, since all the legal procedures needed for this must be followed, you should speak directly with an attorney; select one who specializes in landlord-tenant cases. Also, there may be a local tenants' rights group that can be of help.


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