Often times, when renting a property, Renters will discover that various things—whether they’re appliances, plumbing fixtures, light switches, or more insignificant features of the home—are not working properly. One of the benefits of renting, as opposed to buying, your home is that you are not going to be responsible for every little thing that goes wrong with the home. However, it is important to read your lease in detail as it will often tell you what you as the tenant are responsible for, and what the landlord is responsible for.
Under North Carolina law, there are certain things that the Landlord legally must be responsible for. For example, the Landlord must:
"Maintain in good and safe working order and promptly repair all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances supplied or required to be supplied by him provided that notification of needed repairs is made to the landlord in writing by the tenant except in emergency situations."
This essentially means that the Landlord has to make sure that all of the electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning is working. This is what is known as a non-delegable duty. A non-delegable duty is one that the Landlord is responsible for no matter what, even if the Landlord adds a section to the lease saying otherwise.
So, what are you to do when something that the Landlord is responsible for breaks, but the Landlord, despite your complaints, refuses to fix it? One of the most common things people think they can do is pay to have the problem fixed themselves and then simply withhold that amount from their next rent payments. That is not allowed.
North Carolina law specifically states that “[t]he tenant may not unilaterally withhold rent prior to a judicial determination of a right to do so.” What this means is that, unless you have a written agreement with your landlord or an order from the Court stating that you may withhold a certain dollar amount from your rent, you should not do so. Not paying the full rent, as described in your lease, is grounds for you to be evicted.
If you are having issues with your landlord, whether it be with them not repairing things that need to be repaired, or something else, it is very important that you document all of your communications with the landlord, in writing. While phone calls are generally easier, if you have a problem in the future, relying on a phone call will quickly turn into a “he said she said” argument.
It is also important that as a tenant you keep paying your rent. If you stop paying your rent, or start discounting your rent, your landlord may well decide to evict you. In order to stop paying rent, or to pay a discounted amount of rent, you need an agreement, in writing, from your landlord, or a court order.
If you are having difficulty obtaining the agreement or court order, the attorneys at Jesson & Rains, LLP may be able to help.
8/3/2017 09:52:59 am
On July 28 2017 the HVAC broke in my rental home. The landlord had received two estimates but decided she needed more estimates. Now 8 days later the HVAC is not repaired and no word from the property manager. Our LEASE is up August 31 2017 we asked to be let out of the lease due to the broken HVAC making the house uninhabitable and were told no. Now we are stuck in a house that has a temperature of over 80 degrees with a 70 year old senior citizen and a 6 yar old child. It has been a nightmare suffering in this over 90 degree weather with no ac. What can we do?
8/3/2017 11:57:27 am
Angela, we are so sorry you are dealing with this! Generally, landlords have to provide a fit and habitable property. Since every situation is different, please contact us to discuss your case in particular. 704-496-2770 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to speaking with you.
1/8/2021 02:17:32 am
I need some legal advice or at least guidance on my rental situation. Could you please help me?
12/6/2022 12:05:06 pm
Can you please call our rent 935 but our place is not safe at all the landlord will not fix it
12/6/2022 12:05:27 pm
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Kelly Rains Jesson