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SamIAm's avatar

What do I about the fact that the heat doesn't work in my apartment and my landlord is not fixing it?

Asked by SamIAm (8633 points ) February 29th, 2012

My lease very explicitly states that water, garbage, and heat are included in my rent. My heat doesn’t work (and according to the building manager – who has been here for 10 years – it has never worked) and I have been promised that it would be fixed but it still has not been. He has come here to “work” on the steam radiators a few times (you know, at like 830pm on a Sunday night) but there hasn’t been a solution that has stuck.

I’m sick of it. It’s effen freezing and I’m never someone who is cold!! I am tired of bringing this up to him only to be lied to. I’m pretty sure that a. this is illegal and b. I am not responsible to pay my rent in full considering I am not receiving the services I am paying for.

Additionally, I have been using my OVEN to heat my apartment. Should I request to be partly reimbursed for my pg+e bill? Not to mention that this is a fire hazard.

I’m angry and I don’t know what rights I have as a tenant. Any suggestions on who I can turn to or what I can do at this point??

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11 Answers

zigmund's avatar

You have rights. How you go about enacting them varies from city to city.

Contact your city’s housing authority department. They will be able to help you.

As far as March rent goes, I would open an escrow account and pay all future rent into it. That way you can send a copy of the account balance to both the landlord and the city authorities, showing that you do have the rent and you are willing to turn it over to the landlord as soon as he is in compliance with your lease.

SamIAm's avatar

@zigmund looks like the city housing authority dept is for low income families. Any other suggestions on what department may be able to help?

blueiiznh's avatar

This happened to me years ago. I contacted them (by phone and certified letter) and informed them that I was going to a hotel until they fixed it. They were responsible for my hotel cost until it was fixed. This was in the state of MA at the time. I subsequently moved within a few months.

SamIAm's avatar

I found a site to file a complaint and am doing so right now. I just don’t want this to be used against me. I really love my apartment and don’t want to move. I just want to get what I’m promised.

Judi's avatar

You can call the local building department, but be prepared that they might condemn the building and you would have to stay somewhere else until it’s fixed.
It really depends on the state you live in. Some states would allow you to withhold rent until the issue is fixed. You might have a case for buying an electric space heater and withholding the cost from the rent along with the difference in your power bill.
You might just want to move. You CAN move without notice in most states if the place is not habitable and most states would consider heat a habitability issue.
I would send a letter saying something like, “According to my lease heat is included in my rent. I have asked on X date an d X date to have it fixed. The manager looked at it n X date and the problem is till not resolved. I don’t feel I should be responsible for rent from X until X because the apartment has been uninhabitable.
If the heating is not fixed by X date I will be relinquishing possession of the apartment and expect the full return of my deposit, along with the rent I already paid for an uninhabitable apartment.
I am a reasonable person and I am willing to work something out, but I am not willing to spend any more winter days in an apartment without heat.
Sincerely;
Unhappy Renter.

cazzie's avatar

Heat isn’t just something that is promised, but it is your right. You aren’t just paying for the roof over your head.

I had an apartment like this twice in my life. The first time, I was quite young and didn’t know any better. My landlord was an asshole and the rent was meant to include a laundry in the basement (it was NEVER installed) and heat, out of radiators that never worked. I had ice on the inside of my windows.

Find your if you can report him to more than one agency. See if Health and Human services will get involved. There may be elderly or young children in your building that are suffering as well. Get everything in writing.

Depending on the city you live in, there should be by-laws that a landlord has to abide by, in regards to pest control and basic amenities, that sort of thing. Some cities have special arbitration systems for tenants and landlords.

http://www.shadylandlords.com/about-shady-landlords.php

Scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on your state. It lists agencies in each that are relevant.
http://www.badlandlords.info/

john65pennington's avatar

Use the law to your advantage. Re-read your lease agreement to make sure heat is included, as you stated. If in fact it is included, here is what you do….....

Take your lease and knock on your landlords door. Confront him and advise me that if does not have the heat repaired in your apartment, that he is violating his part of the lease agreement and you will seek a warrant for his arrest for breach of contract. This is a criminal offense and a civil offense together.

Just the threat of a lawsuit/arrest may just do the trick for you.

Let me know. jp

annewilliams5's avatar

@john65pennington -Well put! Well said!
I would also start documenting what you do and what is done for you. Document! Document! Document! Make sure you write down everyone’s name you speak to, which department and what agency they work for, time and date of every conversation, and their advice. It seems to me that you have a landlord that probably believes you won’t do anything to stand up for yourself. I’d say that there are plenty of organizations built around tenant rights, and the sooner you contact them the better. As long as you pay your rent-on time, and take care of the apartment-You have rights. Also, be prepared to need to speak with other tenants. Courage and strength in numbers is the order of the day.

SamIAm's avatar

Hey everyone! So I spoke to a lawyer friend who had made some great suggestions and was going to write me a letter to give to my landlord stating that if the heat isn’t fixed within X days, that I will not be paying rent until it is fixed. When lawyer and I stopped by my apartment last night, there was a note under the door stating that the boiler was being replaced this week and the heat will be off for 4 days. What a joke! I’m hoping this does the trick but if not, I’m going to do what the lawyer says!

Thanks for all of your advice, this was a tricky one :)

annewilliams5's avatar

Is there a way you can legally deduct days of non-heated rent from the check?

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