Your apartment is defective, and your landlord isn’t doing anything to fix it. What can you do?
There are certain things that a landlord is required, by law, to do. The Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ORLTA) says that a landlord must do the following:
A. A landlord shall at all times during the tenancy:
1. Except in the case of a single-family residence, keep all common areas of his building, grounds, facilities and appurtenances in a clean, safe and sanitary condition;
2. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the tenant’s dwelling unit and premises in a fit and habitable condition;
3. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him;
4. Except in the case of one- or two-family residences or where provided by a governmental entity, provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for the frequent removal of such wastes; and
5. Except in the case of a single-family residence or where the service is supplied by direct and independently metered utility connections to the dwelling unit, supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat.
B. The landlord and tenant of a dwelling unit may agree by a conspicuous writing independent of the rental agreement that the tenant is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations or remodeling.
C. Prior to the commencement of a rental agreement, if a landlord knows or has reason to know that the dwelling unit or any part of the premises was used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, the landlord shall disclose this information to a prospective tenant. Provided however, if the landlord has had the level of contamination assessed within the dwelling unit or pertinent part of the premises, and it has been determined that the level of contamination does not exceed one-tenth of one microgram (0.1 mcg) per one hundred square centimeters (100 cm2) of surface materials within the dwelling unit or pertinent part of the premises, no disclosure shall be required.
If your landlord won’t follow this law, notify the landlord, in writing, of the defect in your apartment. In your written notice, tell your landlord:
· He has 14 days to repair the damage;
· If he does not repair the damage, you will terminate the lease agreement 30 days after your landlord receives notice.
The ORLTA says that, if your landlord doesn’t repair the damage within 14 days, then, you have the right to terminate the lease agreement 30 days after your landlord receives notice of the defect. After you terminate the lease agreement, you no longer have to pay rent.
If your landlord doesn’t provide you with heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas or other essential service, then, you don’t have to wait any number of days before you terminate the agreement. You may give written notice to your landlord of the defect, and then you may do any of the following:
· Immediately terminate the lease agreement (which means you no longer have to pay rent);
· At your own expense, get “reasonable amounts of heat, hot water, running water, electric, gas or other essential service.” Then, you may deduct the cost of this service, from the rent you pay your landlord.
· Sue your landlord for damages based on the decreased rental value of your apartment, or
· Obtain substitute housing for as long as your landlord doesn’t repair the damages. During the time your landlord doesn’t repair the damage, you will not have to pay any rent to your landlord.
If the landlord doesn’t comply with the ORLTA, and your apartment becomes unlivable, or “poses an imminent threat to health and safety of any occupant”, and your landlord doesn’t repair the defect as soon as is necessary, you can also immediately terminate the lease agreement after you give written notice to the landlord.
If your landlord doesn’t comply with the ORLTA, and the defect in your apartment “materially affects health”, and it costs less than $100 to repair the breach, the rules are a bit different. Give your landlord written notice of the defect. In your written notice, tell your landlord that he must repair the breach within 14 days (or, if it is an emergency, “as promptly as conditions require”). If the landlord does not repair the breach within the required time, then have the breach repaired at your own expense. Then, give your landlord an itemized statement detailing the cost of the repairs. You then have the right to deduct the cost of the repairs from the rent. You don’t have the right to terminate the lease agreement, under such circumstances.
If your landlord doesn’t comply with ORLTA (under any of the above scenarios) and the noncompliance cause you physical injury, damage to personal property, or monetary loss, then you may sue your landlord for the damages.