Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bad Landlord and No Lease.

Andy rents a basement apartment. For the last two years things have started to fall apart, and the landlord is less and less responsive. Last week the dead bolt broke, and now Andy has no proper lock.

Among other things the furnace is on the blitz, and his electrical bills are much higher because he has to use a space heater. Andy is getting fed up and wants things solved.

The first place to look at a landlord tenant relationship is the lease. A lease is the written version of the contract of a tenancy. However in many circumstances there is no written lease, or the lease is a generic, simple, and free version available online. Often they are incomplete. So we will assume that for Andy his lease was generic, and did not really address this issue.

Not having a lease, or having an incomplete one does not change your rights. For the situation Andy is in, not having a lease is no problem. The best approach to dealing with a situation like this is:

a) Understand what your rights are.
b) Create a plan for enforcing your rights.

Without a lease, your rights are based on residential tenancy law, and what is generally accepted or expected in a landlord tenant relationship.

Regardless of what State, Province, or City you are in, there will be laws that state what a landlords basic obligations are.

In Andy's situation there may be something like this.

"A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards."

Andy has the right to have his unit maintained and safe. No functioning lock, and a dysfunctional furnace is clearly a safety problem. Regardless of if he has a written lease, the law would help.

If you are not sure of what law may help, contact your lock county housing board, or public health board. You can also email me with your location and I will tell you where to get the info needed.

So we have established that Andy has rights. And if you are in a situation where basic health, or maintenance is not being maintained you too could have rights. But what does he do about it?

He needs to have a plan. You need to have a plan.

I) Notify
II) Respond
II) Escalate

You need to notify your landlord that there is a problem. Be specific. It may be worth your while to read "Avoid Redirect" which discusses ways to ask problematic questions and not have them avoided.

Start with a phone call, and advise them that you will follow up with a letter for their records. In your letter be crisp clear and concise. But here is the key. make sure you give a deadline, and a consequence. See this example.

"As discussed on the phone on 7th Feb 2009, the main dead bolt is not functioning, and therefore leaving the premises unsafe. Please have it fixed by the 10th. Otherwise as you understand I will need to fix it myself and invoice you accordingly"


If the landlord starts the repair, then make sure you respond by confirming it is complete, or highlighting what needs to be finished. Make sure you show gratitude for the work done thus far.

If the landlord has not done the work it is time to escalate. You can secure the services of a local locksmith, and invoice the landlord for the repairs. If they refuse to pay you, then it is time to escalate further.

By contacting your local housing board, or landlord tenant board they will tell you what steps you can take to get the rest of the repairs made and the money you have spent returned.

So even if you don't have a lease you have rights. If you are in doubt of what they are you can contact your local housing board or health board. Notify your landlord of the problems. Respond to their action or inaction. Finally escalate if needed.

If the issues are complex, or your landlord is threatening you with eviction because you are kicking up a storm, you should seriously consider talking to a lawyer.

Copyright © 2009 Peter MacSweeney.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author is forbidden. Contact the author through the comment form for all inquiries, including media.

Enter your email address:

Alternatively you can click ..Subscribe to Making Sense of It. Law and Life by Email

No comments:

Post a Comment



Trace AnyoneTrace AnyoneTrace Anyoneplay race car gamesFree Links Direct