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Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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How are you today? I am actually a subtenant in a

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Hi how are you today? I am actually a subtenant in a residencial home in Jersey City Heights. I found it through air-bnb, and took it because of the sunny kitchen. The rate we agreed upon is actually very high, but it I don't mind paying it. Only that the other (actual) tenant in the apartment has been so sloppy in the kitchen, and never cleaned now for 19 months, so that it was overrun with ants; that I took care of, but recently I saw a different kind of a bug. I immediately got on his case to clean, but I also wanted an exterminator to come in, and he doesn't want to pay! The exterminator won't come without immediate payment; they don't send the bill to the owner or anything like that. Also, or at least I want him to pay a cleaning person to just do his job for him now after 19 months! Since the rate I'm paying (I've heard from neighbors and friends now) is ridiculously high, I could not bring myself to pay either bill on top of that. Yet this morning he got very angry and aggressive for the first time at the mention of him paying for the cleaner/exterminator. But he does know that it needs to be cleaned, he just procrastinates for weeks and months about doing it. What are my options? He is also a Russian immigrant so he can pretend not to understand!
JA: What state is the property located in? And has anyone consulted a local attorney about this?
Customer: New Jersey, no; I just consulted an exterminator today!
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: No lease; but do you know air-bnb? It presupposes that the host "takes care of the cleanliness of the property"
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: That's the thing, there is no lease because sub-letting is not actually official, right?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.

Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today.

Have you advised the regular landlord about what's going on? If so, that'd they say? In addition, is this somewhere you would like to continue living or would you want to move?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Oh thanks, ***** ***** owner of the house is on vacation (far away) the last 5 weeks and until June 24th. They are respectable people, and I would love to talk to them now. But I don't have their contact. And yes, I am now already looking around to move, but it will take at least a few weeks to find something. The rent is due on the 11th, and I feel strongly like I can't

Ok, so if this is the case, this appears to be a violation of the implied warranty (promise) of habitability if the place has vermin like ants or other bugs (yikes!) . All residential leases and rental agreements contain an implied warranty of habitability. Under the "implied warranty of habitability," the landlord is legally responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the rental unit's habitability. That is, the landlord must repair defects in the rental unit. However, the landlord is generally not responsible under the implied warranty of habitability for repairing damages that were caused by the tenant or the tenant's family, guests, or pets. The usual measure of damages is either 1) a cancellation of the lease agreement (in extreme cases); 2) a withholding of the rent until the item is repaired; or 3) you repair the matter yourself and request reimbursement. Since it may be too expensive to hire an exterminator on your own, you may want to explore one of the other options and any pursuit for payment against you will likely be unsuccessful.

You may want to consider just writing a drafting a notice to the landlord detailing the problems and that you will exercise one of those options if they do not make the necessary repairs to the property. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template letter (click here). It only costs $10 and it is way cheaper than litigation.

Because I value your input, I would like to know what other questions did you have for me today that I can help out with:-)?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I can't in good conscience hand over another $950 this Wednesday, for this little room and kitchen usage, after all that has gone on about the kitchen. My room is next to the kitchen and I am frightened stiff inside my room.

I can certainly understand. Take a look at what I posted and let me know what questions you had for me on that.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
That is, I will pay the 950 as usual, after he pays for someone to clean the kitchen, finally, after 18 months

I see what you mean. Withholding the rent is a common remedy.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Oh really? So that's why he got furious. So would I withholdjust 200 $ (for extrmination) or the whole 950 for a few days or how much?

It's actually a judgment call by you. For really serious violations, you can withhold the rent for each day the issue isn't resolved. For lesser serious violations, you can pay for the exterminator and just deduct it from the rent. Most people opt for the repair and deduct remedy. Just be sure that you have some receipts to prove your case.

What other questions did you have for me today?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank-you, I will use that template letter! I've already written an inofficial note; he took it right away 2 days ago.

Ok, excellent. Unless you have additional questions, there’s just a few other things I’d like you to know before we wrap up this conversation:

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Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Hi Legal Eagle, just wanted to add that this person made a threat to me this morning, when I mentioned I would subtract the exterm. bill from the rent he got in a rage, leaving for work, and said that if the rent amount were not paid in full, I would end up in the emergency room. I've never heard something like that before, so I was quite surprised, but I went to speak to the local police about it. Do you think I should have a report written up?

I think a report may work I think that if you're really concerned, and if his threats are real, consider filing a restraining order.