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Does a landlord have to make repairs if they're not in the lease?

You have significant issues with your rental apartment, to the point that you think it's dangerous to live there. You're worried that you're going to be seriously injured.

For example, perhaps there are exposed wires and outlets that don't look up to code. It's a serious fire hazard. You've also found that none of the fire alarms work; they don't even have batteries in them. You've asked your landlord to come in and make repairs and updates so that it's safe.

Then your landlord points to the lease, which says nothing about repairs. He or she points out that you signed the documents, so there's no obligation to repair the apartment. Is that true?

It's not. While it can be wise to ask the landlord to put some repair guidelines in the lease so that you're both on the same page, it's not required. No matter what the lease says, the landlord still has to make sure that the apartment is safe and habitable. This is an implied portion of the contract. All landlords are legally bound to provide adequate housing.

If the landlord still refuses to do the work, make sure you put your requests in writing. Then, if you break the lease or are forced to pay for the repairs yourself -- taking it out of your next rent payment -- you have a paper trail of requests showing you were in very real danger, the landlord knew and nothing was done.

Of course, if you are injured while living in the unsafe space, you also want to know what legal options you have to seek out financial compensation.

Source: FindLaw, "A Tenant's Rights to Landlord Repairs," accessed Sep. 19, 2017

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