It is the legal responsibility of every landlord to ensure their rented properties are adequately maintained, so they are safe and habitable. However, not every landlord is diligent about ensuring apartments are well-maintained, leading to the state of their apartments slowly deteriorating. What should you do when your landlord refuses to maintain your apartment?
A Landlord’s Duty to Maintain the Premises
Landlords must perform regular maintenance on the apartments or other rented properties they own. This includes ensuring that boilers and HVAC units are functioning properly, and ensuring that there are no repairs that could result in personal injuries to tenants or guests. Landlords should not charge tenants for this type of regular maintenance unless it is specifically required in a lease. Additionally, Landlords may not make repairs by using money from a security deposit unless the tenant vacates and damages the premises.
The Warranty of Habitability
The warranty of habitability is the doctrine that protects a tenant’s right to live in a space that is safe and livable. This has two major effects: first, it allows a tenant to leave a poorly maintained apartment if it becomes too unsafe or uncomfortable to live in if proven, and second, if proven, it prevents landlords from collecting rent for any time in which they violated the warranty of habitability. Notably, the warranty of habitability cannot be contracted around, meaning a landlord cannot put a clause in your lease that absolves them from the need to maintain your apartment.
How Landlords Fail Their Responsibility
Landlords can fail in their responsibility to maintain their properties in a number of ways. One way is due to neglect: a landlord either refuses to pay for maintenance, or drags their feet, leading to conditions getting worse in their rented properties over time. It can also become a deliberate choice to allow their apartments to fall to pieces, refusing to maintain your apartment as a way of chasing out tenants they consider to be undesirable.
What You Should Do
If you live in an apartment building or other rented property and your landlord refuses to perform maintenance, you may have a number of legal options open to you. However, to understand what those options are, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling landlord-tenant disputes. They can help you to explore your potential options and help you to get a favorable outcome to your situation.
If you are in a dispute with your landlord and want to know more about protecting yourself, do not wait until it is too late. You should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling landlord-tenant disputes, who can advise you on your rights and help you avoid the risk of eviction. Contact the skilled landlord-tenant attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. Contact us online, toll-free (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744 to discuss your rights and the solutions available to you.