If your landlord has not lived up to his or her obligations under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) or your rental agreement, you may have several options available to you. If your landlord, whether deliberately or negligently, fails to provide you with an essential service, such as heat, water, sewer, electricity, or plumbing, you need to immediately give your landlord written notice of the problem and tell them that you may exercise your rights under URLTA.
After you have done this, you may choose from the following options:
- Make the repairs and deduct the cost from your rent. If you do this, you need to keep receipts for every expense and submit them to your landlord for credit on your next month’s rent. Here is a sample notice you may submit to your landlord to notify him/her of your need to repair and deduct from the rent.
- Find reasonable substitute housing. If you are unable to live in your current housing because of the lack of essential services, you may find housing elsewhere and be excused from paying rent until the problem is resolved. If you have to pay more rent for the new housing than what you would have normally paid for your current housing, you may charge your landlord for the difference.
- Seek damages. In very serious cases, the lack of services may be so bad that the property is no longer worth what it was when you agreed on an amount to pay for rent. In this case, you may sue your landlord or counterclaim (if your landlord has sued you) to recover a part of the rent you paid
If your landlord has failed to meet his or her URLTA or rental agreement responsibilities other than providing essential services, you may have other remedies. Again, you must give your landlord written notice before you take any of these actions. The written notice must state what the problems are and that if the landlord does not fix the problem within 10 days of receiving the notice, you will move out in twenty days. The rental agreement will not terminate if the landlord fixes the problem within the 10-day period.. However, If the same problem occurs again within six months, you can give your landlord 10-day notice of your move, without giving the landlord the opportunity to correct the problem. You cannot exercise this option if you, your family, or your guest is the one who caused the problem.
You may wish to speak with an attorney if you have suffered damages from your landlord’s non-compliance with URLTA or your rental agreement.