What should I do?

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What should I do?

Hello, I just put a deposit down for a duplex in Michigan. I told the land lord that I want the unit cleaned and exterminated because I have asthma and it could be affected. I saw a few insects and bug spray when I visited the property. There are spider webs, exposed dog food on the floor, old oat meal, dead insects, live insects, a partially rusted sink and tub, and what looks like exposed glue on the edge of the kitchen counter. The carpet smells of animals. The leasing agent told me he didn’t think the landlord was going to clean the carpet, but he will give me a voucher to rent a carpet cleaner myself, and he did. However, he also told me the walls were going to be cleaned, the hole in the living room wall was going to be fixed, and the front screen door was going to be fixed, but when I arrived at the unit nothing was done. I just got word from the landlord today for the first time ever that they finally fixed the wall and the front door, but that is all they are going to do period. Then he told me I have 2 choices only, ‘take the unit as is, or give me the key back get your deposit back and leave.’ Today was the very first time I spoke with the landlord. I only have been communicating with the leasing agent. This landlord also is refusing me an exterminator. He will not allow me to pay for an exterminator at my own an expense. His reason is he does not want anyone doing work on the unit., also he did not give me a move in checklist at all. Please tell me what I should do. I cannot take his second option because I am on section 8 and my voucher expired July 30th this year. He agreed to letting me pay for professional cleaners, but not an exterminator. I cant clean the unit myself because I was in 2 car accidents this year, and I have extreme asthma. I am disabled and am on ssi.

Asked on September 19, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There are no particularly good options in this case. If you're not willing or able to move, then you could try withholding the rent or part of it until the landlord exterminates and otherwise provides you with a habitable apatment: landlords are obligated to provide habitable premises, and while they breach that obligation, the tenant does not have to pay rent (or at least not full rent). If you go this route, expect that the landlord will try to evict you; you will have to respond in court and will raise the landlord's failure to exterminate and otherwise provide habitable space as a defense to your nonpayment. Be sure to have the money available in case the court either wants it deposited (basically escrowed) in court pending resolution of the situation or disagrees with you and feels the issues are not so bad as to legally justify withholding rent--if you are ordered to deposit or pay and do not have the rent that day in court, you could be evicted.
Before doing the above, send the landlord written requests for the exertmination, etc., sent some way you can prove delivery, and then give him time to get the work done: landlords must get written notice and a chance to correct the problem(s). 
If are on Section 8, you may be eligible for help from Legal Services; contact them and see if they can help you before you act on your own.


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