I have rented a house with a dishwasher that does not work. It leaves a dried on white powder on everything and rusts the silverware. He will not move on it. The place has well water and a water softener that I don't think is working properly. I want to know if the lease states that all appliances are in good working order does he have to fix or replace it? I also want to know who is responsible for the testing of the water and if the system is not working what should I do?Thank YouS. XXXXX XXXXX
Good morning Brian. Can you tell me what state the property is located? Thanks.
Thanks. Ok...I have set forth the landlord's duties and your rights with regard to this under the MA landlord tenant laws....
You are entitled to a safe and habitable living environment throughout your entire tenancy. The State Sanitary Code protects the health, safety and well-being of tenants and the general public (105 CMR 410). The local Boards of Health enforce the Code. (Note: In Boston, it is the Housing Inspection Department.) Copies of the Code may be purchased from the State House Bookstore, State House, Room 116, Boston, MA 02133,(NNN) NNN-NNNN
The following is a sampling of provisions outlined in the Code:
Water: The landlord must provide you with enough water, with adequate pressure, to meet your ordinary needs. Under certain limited circumstances, you can be charged for water costs so long as it is clearly noted in your written rental agreement and there is a separate meter for your unit. The landlord must also provide the facilities to heat the water at a temperature between 110º F and 130º F, however your written tenancy agreement or lease may require you to pay for and provide the fuel to heat the water.
Heat: The landlord must provide a heating system in good working order. The landlord must pay for the heat, unless your lease requires you to pay for it. From September 16 to June 14, every room must be heated to at least 68º F between 7:00 AM and 11 PM, and at least 64º F at all other hours. During the heating season, the maximum heat allowable in the apartment is 78º F.
Kitchens: The landlord must provide within the kitchen: a sink of sufficient size and capacity for washing dishes and kitchen utensils, a stove and oven in good repair (unless your written lease requires you to provide your own), and space and proper facilities for the installation of a refrigerator. The landlord does not have to provide a refrigerator. If a refrigerator is provided, however, the landlord must keep it in working order.
Cockroaches and Rodents: The landlord must maintain the unit free from rodents, cockroaches, and insect infestation, if there are two or more apartments in the building.
Structural Elements: Every landlord must maintain the foundation, floors, walls, doors, windows, ceilings, roof, staircases, porches, chimneys, and other structural elements of the dwelling so that it excludes wind, rain, and snow; is rodent-proof, weathertight, watertight, and free from chronic dampness; in good repair, and in every way fit for its intended use.
Snow Removal: Every exit used or intended for use by occupants of more than one dwelling unit or rooming unit shall be maintained free from obstruction.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that when a landlord fails to maintain a dwelling in habitable condition, a tenant may properly withhold a portion of the rent from the date the landlord has notice of this breach of warrant of habit-ability. Rent withholding can be a useful tool to force repairs, but it is a serious step and should be dealt with carefully. You may want to get legal advice before withholding your rent since the landlord may try to evict you for non-payment of rent.
You may withhold a portion of your rent if:
Deciding how much to withhold is based on each situation. You need only pay the fair rent for your unit given its defective condition. Once the landlord has repaired all defects, the tenant must pay all withheld rent (M.G.L. c. 239, § 8A).
If you contract to make repairs and then deduct the cost from the rent, you must retain a receipt. Further, if the costs are deemed to be unreasonable, you will only be able to deduct that portion which is reasonable.
If you qualify under the requirements of "repair and deduct," you may treat your lease as void. You then have the right to move out if you choose not to make repairs. However, you must pay the fair rental value for the period you occupied the apartment, and you must vacate within a reasonable period of time (M.G.L. c. 111, § 127L).
I hope this has given you the guidance you were seeking. I wish you the best of luck!
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The information given here is not legal advice. As all states have different intricacies in their laws, the information given is general only. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you. I hope this answer has been helpful to you.
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