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Ask Thomas Swartz Your Own Question
Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 3176
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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There was a fire in my building and now it needs rewiring. I

Customer Question

There was a fire in my building and now it needs rewiring. I have had no air condition since July which makes my second floor apt unliveable in our now 90 plus degree temperature. My landlord is ignoring my problem. I am sleeping at my daughters. What are my options?
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Louisville, KY.
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: Yes. That as well. They have informed that I have to move. The property was bought by another company and since that time there have been nothing but problems. I advised that they would have to provide me an apt in as good a condition as the one I am in. Others have fallen into disrepair and I don't want to live in those circumstances.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I paid September's rent and have not stayed in the apt 5 days. Am I obligated to pay October's rent under these conditions. Because that side of the building needs rewiring, I will not have any heat either because they are on the same system.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 1 year ago.


A landlord is required to maintain habitable or livable housing for his tenants which meets which meets all building and safety codes. If the landlord fails to meet this basic obligation, the tenant has been "constructively convicted" from the premises and the tenant has the right to terminate the lease, or withhold rent until repairs are made. It sounds like your situation is like this. Kentucky law sets specific requirements for the procedures you must follow before moving or withholding rent out because of a major repair problem. The requirements are set forth in Kentucky Revised Statutes 383-640 and 383-650. I encourage you to read these statutes in full as they require that you give specific notice to the landlord before you take any action. I will set forth these statutes below:

383.650 Fire or casualty damage.

(1) If the dwelling unit or premises are damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty or so

injured by the elements, act of God, or other cause to an extent that enjoyment of

the dwelling unit is substantially impaired, the tenant or the landlord may terminate

the rental agreement upon fourteen (14) days' notice; however, the tenant may

immediately vacate the premises.

(2) If the rental agreement is terminated under provision of this section the landlord

shall return all the unused portion of the prepaid rent. Accounting for rent in the

event of termination or apportionment shall be made as of the date of the casualty.

383.640 Wrongful failure to supply essential services.

(1) If, contrary to the rental agreement of KRS 383.595, the landlord willfully fails to

supply heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, or other essential service, the

tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and may:

(a) Procure reasonable amounts of heat, hot water, running water, electric, gas,

and the essential service during the period of the landlord's noncompliance

and deduct their actual and reasonable cost from the rent;

(b) Recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the

dwelling unit; or

(c) Procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord's

noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the

period of the landlord's noncompliance.

(2) In addition to a remedy provided in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) the tenant may

recover reasonable attorney's fees.

(3) If the tenant proceeds under this section, he may not proceed under KRS 383.625 or

383.635 as to that breach.

(4) Rights of the tenant under this section do not arise until he has given notice to the

landlord or if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or

omission of the tenant

Please see also: Kentucky Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent or “Repair and Deduct.

How to Withhold Rent for Repairs

I hope this helps.