What are my rights if my hot water/boiler has totally stopped working?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights if my hot water/boiler has totally stopped working?

My hot water heater/boiler had totally stopped working back and for the past 8 months, my roommate and I have requested this be fixed from the building manager of my 4 unit building. This was supposed to be repaired within 2 weeks but nothing has been done. We have a temporary unit, which looks like a shop vac, that only provides hot water for a very limited/short time. We are unable to wash clothes on hot, or shower too close in time to one another. The main issue we are now concerned with, is the fact that we also have no heat.

Starting this month, since the heating season has officially begun, my roommate and I notified t

Asked on October 8, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You can withhold rent when there is an issue which affects habitability such as no hot water heater/boiler, especially during heating season and the landlord has refused to make repairs despite notice of the problem and opportunity to do so. If/when the landlord tries to evict you for nonpayment, you would raise the lack of hot water and heat as a defense.
Put the withhold money aside in a savings account at some point you'll have to pay some or all of it and will typically have to deposit it into the court when you raise the habitability defense deposit is required to show that you have the money and withheld it for good cause, and are not merely raising habitability as a defense to your failure to pay rent.
The judge may order that you only have to pay a portion of the rent for the time you were without heat, and you can ask for that--but have all the money set aside and ready for deposit and/or payment as the court orders. 
Your case will be stronger if you can provide written evidence of telling the landlord about the problem.

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