If a landlord does not provide certain things for you that cause a serious problem, such as a working sewer system, heat in cold weather, or drinkable water, the landlord may be violating the “warranty of habitability.” In these situations, you have the right to end your lease and move out.
• Do not just leave. If you plan to move out, you should first write to your landlord to briefly explain the problems. Ask that the problems be fixed within a reasonable period of time. Try to be brief, but include some details of the problem. For example,
“Since the neighbor moved out two months ago, we have seen an infestation of cockroaches. We have asked you to call an exterminator, but you have not done so. My child’s doctor says this may be what is making her asthma worse.”
“None of the radiators are working on the second floor. Because of that it is very cold and uncomfortable. We are afraid the pipes will freeze.”
• Set a reasonable deadline for the repair. Keep a copy of your letter. (There are sample letters on the website).
If the landlord does not fix the problems within a reasonable time, plan your move.
When you know when you will be moving out, write to your landlord again to tell him that he has violated the warranty of habitability because the landlord did not fix these problems and, as a result, you are moving out. You may also want to request your security deposit back and some back rent for the time the conditions were bad.
Send or deliver the letter when you know you are moving out. Always take pictures to show that you have not left behind trash or damaged the home. Also take pictures of the conditions you complained about, if possible.