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Everything You Need To Know About “Habitable” premises

A landlord has various important duties to be fulfilled, such as for example to repair the rental property and keep it in habitable condition. Additionally, if a landlord has to enter or check his rental property, they will have to provide notice to his tenants in a timely manner (except in emergency cases).

If the rental property has a heating or plumbing problem, because of their distinctive nature, it needs to be handled within 24 hours of learning about the problem.While for other issues that are not as urgent, all repairs should be made within 48 hours. However, landlords should always keep in mind that they need to provide advance notice to their tenants before entering the rental property. 

Duties of Repairs and Maintenance

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In a majority of states, landlords are required to make sure that the rental property is in a habitable condition before the tenant first moves in. Plus, once the tenant moves in, its landlord’s responsibility to take care, repair and conduct maintenance in order to keep the rental property in a habitable condition. Habitable properties are those that have adequate water, heating, cleanliness, electricity, and is structurally sound. Even though the law varies from one state to another, and even from city to city, maintaining the property in any way is essential.

Since there landlord’s duties may vary from place to place, you need to make sure to carefully discuss about local codes related to rental properties in your state and city. In general, you can find this information at the housing authority, or at your local building as well as at local health and fire departments.

What Can Happen If You Do Not Make Required Repairs

When the landlord fails to conduct the necessary maintenance even after receiving the requests from the tenant, there can be a number of serious consequences. First, depending on your state’s laws, your tenant can choose to stop all rent fees until the repair is appropriately made. There are some states who consider it too harsh and often request the tenant to put their rent money aside in the escrow account that will be released to the landlord only when the repair has been made. In addition, your tenant may choose to simply pay less rent till the problem is solved.

But if the landlord fails to fix the problem in a timely manner even after receiving the notice, then the tenant can hire an outside party to do the necessary repairs. However, the tenant should always be reasonable while choosing who is going to do the repairs before reducing the cost from their next rent payment.

Also, if the problem violates any state or local buildings, your tenant may decide to contact the local authorities regarding the issue. If inspectors find any problem, then you, as a landlord, can face several fines and penalties.

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Lastly, if the issue is pervasive and violates the tenant’s right to live in the habitable structure, the tenant can choose to move out of the rental property and should end the lease agreement. As a landlord, this can lead to a lawsuit against you known as constructive eviction lawsuit. In order to win over this situation, the tenant has to show two things. First, the tenant needs to prove the uninhabitable conditions were because of landlord’s lack of action to fix the issue. Second, the tenant will also have to show that they abandoned the rental property in a reasonable time. If the landlord fails to put up a strong defense, he might face potential financial penalties for breaking up the lease, physical and emotional stress, and the discomfort caused by the bad conditions.

Notice to Tenants about Upcoming Entry onto the Rental Property

Most states demand that the landlord should give notice to tenants 24 hours before their entry to the rental unit. But, in case of emergency repair, a landlord can enter the rental unit at any time without prior notice. In some jurisdictions, landlords can also enter a rental unit without any notice if the tenant is not available for an extended period of time, in order to see the property and make necessary repairs.

If the landlord breaks this law, they are subject to a lawsuit by the tenant. Some states, such as California, provide the tenants with a claim for harassment if their landlord enters their rental unit without prior notice and will also provide the monetary fine against the landlord.

Get a Free Initial Legal Review

If conflicts arise it’s important to know your rights. Contact any local attorney for a free initial legal review to discuss the situation and learn more about local laws and your rights.

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