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What can I do if my landlord fails to make repairs?

On behalf of Goldstein Goldstein

Renting a home in New Jersey may be ideal for your situation because it means you do not have to make repairs to any of the significant systems, such as plumbing, heating and electric. Your landlord has that responsibility. 

However, you may wonder what rights you have if your landlord is not following through on his or her duties and leaving your rental in disrepair. 

Legal obligations 

According to the Department of Community Affairs, your landlord has an obligation to you to provide a livable home that is safe and sanitary. What makes a rental meet these requirements may vary. The court will judge on a case-by-case basis. 

However, in general, something that causes you not to be comfortable in your own home would be a violation of this obligation. Good examples are interruptions of the water, electricity or heat. 

Notification of problems 

You need to notify your landlord of any issues in writing and send the notice by certified mail with a return receipt request. You also need to allow time for your landlord to fix the problem. If he or she fails to do so within a reasonable time, which is also up to interpretation by the court, then you have a couple of legal options. 

Remedies 

First, you can fix the issue yourself and deduct the repair expense from your rent. It is crucial to keep the receipts and ensure whoever does the work does it correctly. You may have to prove in court what the repairs were and who did them. 

The second option is to break your lease. Constructive eviction is when you break the lease without penalty. Your landlord will have to return any security deposit and cannot make you pay any additional rent. 

It is essential that your landlord provides you with a comfortable home, and some issues may require quicker resolutions than others. Keep that in mind when dealing with repairs and deciding whether to use a remedy. 

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