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Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  20 years extensive experience in real estate law, foreclosure, finance, and landlord tenant law.
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My landlord is out of state in Florida while I am in Pennsylvania.

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My landlord is out of state in Florida while I am in Pennsylvania. He has not been present in over a year. There are multiple issues that need fixed ( plumbing, electric , ect). I work a 50 hour work week and have had to make multiple arrangements for someone to be home so these issues could get fixed. He is suggesting on me letting someone in while I am not there. My question is, who is responsible to give the electrician my key ( as once again i'd have to make arrangements to do so) me or my landlord? Also, if anything were to end up missing or damaged when electrician is there , who would be liable? Thank you.
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Pro replied 12 months ago.

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Sorry for your situation.

If you don't let them in - then the landlord give them access during normal business hours.

If an emergency - then the repairman would come as needed.

If your schedule doesn't permit you to be present while the repairman/serviceman is there - then there is a risk of something being missing.

You can place your property behind a locked door within the premises.

The problem of something "missing" is proof that you owned it, that it was there before they came, and now it's missing. The repairman/serviceman is going to deny it certainly.

Regretfully, even if the landlord lived locally - they would most likely only let the repairman/serviceman inside and not stay while they performed the work. Or even if there the landlord cannot be liable for another third party's illegal act.


So your only alternative is to either be there when the repairman/serviceman performs the work OR place your valuables in another room with a locked door. Then it would be obvious if the lock or door was broken who did such.


But the landlord is responsible for arranging the timing of the repairs within your schedule if possible. If that's not possible - then the landlord must give them access somehow - that's their job and responsibility.

Moreover, if the problems are bad enough - the landlord could be in breach of the warranty of habitability and you don't have to pay rent if such are the problems.

In PA, the warranty of habitability is a legal doctrine that requires landlords to offer and maintain livable premises for their tenants. If a landlord fails to provide habitable housing, tenants in most states may legally withhold rent or take other measures, including fixing the problem and deducting the cost from the rent, or moving out.

Conditions that make a rental unit legally uninhabitable

There are many kinds of defects that could make a rental unit unlivable. The implied warranty of habitability requires landlords to maintain their rental units in a condition fit for the "occupation of human beings " In addition, the rental unit must "substantially comply" with building and housing code standards that materially affect tenants' health and safety.

A landlord’s lease cannot avoid the implied warranty habitability - nor can the tenant waive the implied warranty of habitability.

A rental unit may be considered uninhabitable (unlivable) if it contains a lead hazard that endangers the occupants or the public, or is a substandard building because, for example, a structural hazard, inadequate sanitation, or a nuisance endangers the health, life, safety, property, or welfare of the occupants or the public.

A dwelling also may be considered uninhabitable (unlivable) if it substantially lacks any of the following:

Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water, connected to a sewage disposal system
Gas facilities in good working order.
Heating facilities in good working order.
An electric system, including lighting, wiring, and equipment, in good working order.
Clean and sanitary buildings, grounds, and appurtenances (for example, a garden or a detached garage), free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.
Adequate trash receptacles in good repair.
Floors, stairways, and railings in good repair.
In addition to these requirements, each rental unit must have all of the following:

A working toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower. The toilet and bathtub or shower must be in a room which is ventilated and allows privacy.
A kitchen with a sink that cannot be made of an absorbent material such as wood.
Natural lighting in every room through windows or skylights. Windows in each room must be able to open at least halfway for ventilation, unless a fan provides mechanical ventilation.
Safe fire or emergency exits leading to a street or hallway. Stairs, hallways, and exits must be kept litter-free. Storage areas, garages, and basements must be kept free of combustible materials.
Operable deadbolt locks on the main entry doors of rental units, and operable locking or security devices on windows.
Working smoke detectors in all units of multi-unit buildings, such as duplexes and apartment complexes. Apartment complexes also must have smoke detectors in common stairwells.
Ground fault circuit interrupters for swimming pools and antisuction protections for wading pools in apartment complexes and other residential settings (but not single family residences).
The implied warranty of habitability is not violated merely because the rental unit is not in perfect, aesthetically pleasing condition. Nor is the implied warranty of habitability violated if there are minor housing code violations, which, standing alone, do not affect
habitability.

While it is the landlord's responsibility to install and maintain the inside wiring for one telephone jack, the landlord's failure to do so probably does not violate the implied warranty of habitability.

Additionally is the presence of mold conditions in the rental unit that affect the livability of the unit or the health and safety of tenants and the when the local health officer that the property is contaminated by methamphetamine.

Landlords must repair the pipes and plumbing in a rental unit and maintain them in good shape. They are obligated to do so under at least two separate, though related, theories.

The landlord has to keep essential plumbing (e.g.the toilet) working. What happens if there is a leak and the tenant’s belongings are damaged? In that case, if the landlord violated a duty to maintain the plumbing, he may also have been legally negligent. If the cause of the leak was negligence—for example, carelessness in maintaining or fixing the pipes—the landlord may well be responsible for any damages or losses caused by the negligence.

The tenant, however, must also act with diligence. This translates into both a duty to mitigate the damage (moving property out of the way of water for example) and to act responsibly to notify someone to alleviate the damaging condition.
Of course, sometimes water leaks will happen without it being any one’s fault—or sometimes they’re even the tenant’s fault, as when a tenant kept heat too low and pipes froze and burst. If the damage was not caused by the landlord’s actions or negligent inaction—in other words, if the landlord did everything reasonably expected of him or her—then the landlord may avoid responsibility for property damage or a water bill.
The determining factor will be the legal decisions in the state, which help determine where exactly that line between liable and non-liable fall.

The tenant may do one or a combination of the following:

1) Move out and terminate the lease: If the landlord does not make the repairs within a reasonable time the tenant may move out and terminate the lease.
2) Repair and deduct: The tenant can make the repairs himself and deduct the repair costs from the next month's rent. The repairs cannot cost more than one months rent to utilize this option.
3) Sue for damages: The tenant may sue the landlord for damages from the date of the landlord’s knowledge of the breach of warranty of habitability. The measure of damages is generally the difference between the value of the rented premises in its uninhabitable condition and its fair market rental value.
4) Sue to force the landlord to make repairs: The tenant can get a court order forcing the landlord to make the repairs. Courts are unlikely to utilize this option because it involves costly court supervision to ensure the repairs have been made.




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Law Pro, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 23608
Experience: 20 years extensive experience in real estate law, foreclosure, finance, and landlord tenant law.
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Expert:  Law Pro replied 12 months ago.
Thank you so much for allowing me to help you with your questions. I have done my best to provide information which will be helpful to you. If I have not fully addressed your questions or if you have any follow up questions, or if I have misinterpreted your questions in any way, please do not rate me yet, but simply ask a follow up question without rating so I can provide you with a fully satisfactory answer. If I have fully answered your question(s) to your satisfaction, I would appreciate you rating my service with 3, 4, or 5 faces so I can receive credit for helping you today. I thank you in advance for taking the time to provide me a positive rating!

If you have any questions, about this or anything else, please ask for me, Law Pro, directly in the question and I will try to assist you as best I can.

For example, you would state, "This question is for Law Pro . . . (then on with your question).

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