What are my rights if my landlord knows about known problems withmy rentaland does nothing about it?

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What are my rights if my landlord knows about known problems withmy rentaland does nothing about it?

I have been living in a property that I rent for a long time. I didn’t sign a lease agreement with the landlord. Now there is a couple holes in the roof itself. You can see water leaking in through both the bedroom and bathroom ceilings. Also, there are 2 huge holes in the living room ceiling, due to the pipes leaking in the bathroom above. The landlord knows about the problems; it has been about 3 months. He does not want to due anything about it; he has not called or made a attempt to call me. When I do call it’s always a voice mail. Is it worth getting a lawyer involved?

Asked on August 9, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) Every lease, even oral leases (see below) has what's known as the "implied warranty of habitability." This is that the premises must be safely inhabitable. The sort of issues you describe may well violate that warranty, which would let you potentially sue for monetary damages, to force the landlord to fix the problem, and/or to break the lease.

2) When there is no written lease, it is an oral (often not-quite-correctly called a verbal) lease. An oral lease is always month to month; that means tenancy can be terminated by either party on a month's notice.

So you may have an enforceable  right against the landlord. And if you threaten to cost the landlord money, he or she may be able to terminate your tenancy on a month's notice. You might still recover some monetary damages for the time you lived in unsatisfactory conditions, but now be out of a place to live. You should consult with an attorney to evaluate your case, your rights, your recourse, and decide what to do.


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