Tenants have the right to suitable living standards in the rental space. This means that the landlord is responsible for providing the tenant a suitable and habitable living environment. He is obliged to keep the property’s structure, interior, and exterior in proper condition. One such situation that tenants often encounter is a leaking roof.
Indeed, such a situation is unendurable, and the landlord must fix it to comply with building codes. A rental property should be free of wind and water issues associated with weather changes.
The only exception when the landlord is not responsible for making any repairs or covering the cost is when the tenant or his guests damage anything in rental property, willingly or unwillingly.
Depending on the issue, the landlord should make sure that important issues are taken care of first. The priority must be given to problems that can infringe the tenant’s right to live in an inhabitable unit or cause health and safety issues.
Moreover, if the landlord fails to repair the leaky ceiling, state habitability law specifies what action tenants can take.
Reasonable time for repairing a small or big leaking roof
Whether a leaking roof is small or large, it will be annoying for the tenants and can be a source of disruption to their whole schedule.
When the tenant informs the landlord about the leaking roof, they must take care of it as early as possible, irrespective of the full time allowed for the repair.
In most states, the reasonable time under which the landlord should make the essential repairs is 30 days. However, the severity of the leak should also be taken into account.
For small leaks
If the leak is very small and you can manage the condition by putting a bucket underneath the leak to catch the small water drips, prompt action might not be needed. Still, the landlord should try to repair it on priority before the issue gets bigger.
For big leaks
If the leak is big, it will need a large bucket to catch the water drops. The bucket may fill before a week or have to be poured out daily. In such a situation, it is clear that a leak is a major issue and needs immediate repair.
It can affect the tenant’s belongings and an apartment too. So, the landlord should take care of such issues within no time to avoid a considerable loss.
➡LEARN MORE: Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Water Damage?
What to do if the landlord does not repair the leaks in time
Warranty of habitability demands the landlord to keep the rental unit habitable. When there is a breach of implied warranty of habitability, tenants must inform the landlord about the leaking ceiling as early as possible.
If the landlord does not make essential repairs within a reasonable time, the tenant has certain other options:
- If the necessary repairs fall below the months’ rent, the tenant can make the essential repairs for the leaking roof and deduct the costs from next month’s rent.
- The tenant can also abandon the rental unit without penalty if the damage due to the leaking roof has drastically disturbed the habitability.
- If the damage caused by the leaking roof is threatening to the tenant’s health and safety, he can withhold the next month’s rent.
- If a landlord doesn’t repair it even after 30 days, certain states allow the tenant to file a petition to reduce rent or defer a rent increase.
- A tenant can also call the local building department to deal with the landlord. Building inspectors determine whether damage to the rental unit comes under building code violation and what should be the rental adjustment.