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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 27621
Experience:  Attorney
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PA** can a tenant refuse to pay rent because he thinks it is

Customer Question

PA** can a tenant refuse to pay rent because he thinks it is too cold in his apartment? does the landlord have the right to evict him for nonpayment of rent?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

There are some cities or counties within PA that have their own housing codes, and many of these do address heat. Where in PA is the property located? Does the landlord control the heat settings, or is he saying that something is wrong with the heating unit?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
the property is located in New Castle, PA. Code says that the temperature should be 68 degrees during the winter months. The furnace got checked out by a professional and was deemed to be operational. The issue is, the house is on one heating system, and the thermostat is on the first floor. it gets drafty inside the lower unit but the upper unit(s) are often warmer. what is the landlord's responsibility in making sure the lower unit is also at 68 degrees?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.

If the code says that the property must be capable of being heated to 68 degrees, then the landlord needs to make sure every level is at least 68. That could mean replacing the windows, providing space heaters, covering the windows with plastic, etc. The person living on the upper floor cannot lower the thermostat below 68, even if it's too warm upstairs. If the thermostat says 68 degrees, the landlord could also try asking the city housing inspector to come out and take a look (thereby showing the tenant that there's no a problem). But that could backfire if the city says that windows need to be replaced.

PA law does allow a tenant to withhold rent due to living conditions that are below the minimum required. A landlord cannot evict a tenant who is lawfully withholding rent. That means the landlord would either need to be able to fix the problem, or establish that the tenant is wrong and the lower level IS 68 degrees, as required.

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