As a tenant, what shouldI do if my key won’t work to my house and my landlord won’t answer the phone?

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As a tenant, what shouldI do if my key won’t work to my house and my landlord won’t answer the phone?

My lock has not been working for my house. I haven’t been able to get in, even though I am paying rent. The landlord said he’d fix it and still hasn’t so. I can’t get in my house and I can’t get a hold of the landlord. What should I do?

Asked on January 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is breaching his lease--which is a contract--with you by accepting rent while not providing access to your home. As a result, you may have grounds to sue the landlord for damages; to pay for a locksmith and take the cost out of rent; and/or to terminate the lease without penalty. (You may be able to do more than one of these.) You should consult with an attorney with landlord-tenant experience to see what your possible recourses are, to decide what you should do, and the attorney can help you do that (e.g. send a "lawyer letter" to the landlord; file a lawsuit if necessary; etc.) Good luck. Note that simply withholding rent, if done incorrectly, could end up with you in breach of the lease and lliable, so do not do that.


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