What are my rights as a tenant if my unit is barely habitable?

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What are my rights as a tenant if my unit is barely habitable?

I currently live in a house with 2 roommates. We have been having issues with the home that we are living in. The well pump stops working randomly, which requires someone to go out and reset the pump. The furnace does not heat the water properly causing the water for everything in the house (from the shower to the sinks) to switch from freezing to scolding. Also, we do not have working outlets in 3 rooms of the home. These issues were reported to the rental agency and the landlord during the “move in” inspection. We have filled out and multiple times since then via email, notes, and verbal complaints.

Asked on August 5, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may have grounds to take legal action, to either force the landlord to correct the problems and/or to sue for  damages (e.g. the difference in rental value between what you're paying and what a unit with these problems would go for). You would be suing under both the lease, for breach of contract (you're not getting what you paid for) and potentially under what's known as the "implied warranty of habitability," which requires that rented premises be inhabitable safely--though usually the implied warranty requires a pretty serious condition, like no heat or no running water.

You should speak with an attorney who can evaluate your situation and let you know about the strength of your case, what it might be worth, and what steps to take.


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