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Ask C.Fortunato Your Own Question
C.Fortunato, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 8023
Experience:  Admitted NYS Bar, member ABA, NYSBA, NYCBA, QCBA, Licensed Real Estate Broker
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I live in an apartment in Jamaica Plain, a part of Boston,

Customer Question

I live in an apartment in Jamaica Plain, a part of Boston, MA. I have no lease (tenant at will or month to month), and I've lived in the building for several years without any major problem. My boyfriend moved out and I've needed to look for a roommate. The room I was going to let for a portion of the rent (it's a small bedroom) had had a major leak the year before and had supposedly been mid-December when I was set to show the room to a few people, the leak started again, this time much worse. The leak was likened to the pressure and volume of a full-on shower coming from a two/three foot square area, "raining" through the electric socket. Clearly I was unable to show the room and I was also concerned for the safety issues. I had to visit family and returned and the issue was the same. It is now January and the room is the same. What are my rights in the matter?   Can I subtract the amount the room would have been let for when I pay my rent? Help!
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  C.Fortunato replied 8 years ago.
There are a few remedies available to you. But first you have to notify the landlord to give him the opportunity to fix the leak. You said it was supposed to be fixed. It is possible that it was fixed but it broke again.
If he is notified, but does not fix the leak within a reasonable time, then you can withhold all the rent (but do not spend it), until he fixes it. If he does not fix it, and takes you to court for nonpayment of rent, you can assert the defense that your roof is leaking. At that time you will be ordered to pay the past-due rent, and the landlord will be ordered to fix the leak.
You could withhold only a portion of the rent, but unless you can agree, only a court can decide how much to reduce the rent because of unfit conditions in the apartment. And if you withhold only a portion, the landlord will have less incentive to fix the leak.
If the repair is not too costly, tenants can sometimes arrange to have it done themselves, and deduct the expense from the rent.

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