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Breaking a lease is hard, but not impossible

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-02 21:15:07-04

I get complaint after complaint about bugs, water leaks, no heat and no air from renters who don't know their rights.

To be clear, you have the right to a safe, clean, inhabitable rental home with working appliances including heat and air.

But if you can't get the landlord to fix it, you also have the right to take action.

Start by putting your request in writing.

That's when the clock starts ticking.

Send a certified letter detailing exactly how the landlord is breaching lease.

By law, they have ten calendar days to fix the problem, or you can void the lease and move out.

If it affects health or safety, that time frame is shortened to five days.

You can pay to fix the problem and take it off the rent, but you must notify the landlord in writing of your intention.

If the landlord attempts to fix the problem that may start the clock over.

But make sure to document everything with pictures and video in case the landlord decides to sue you when you move out.

You have the right to know exactly why you did not get your deposit back.

The landlord has 14 business days from the date you request it, to send you the money or an itemized list of what the money paid for.

Request receipts verifying how much was spent and where.

Don't agree with the decision?  You've got the right to take the landlord to court and let a judge decide.  

Sounds like a lot of work but make sure you have all correspondence and pictures to help prove your case.

You do not have the right to withhold rent. It's tempting, but it will get you nowhere. Keep paying your rent on time, send your certified letter, give them time to fix it, and be prepared to move out if they don't.