Have you ever seen the movie“Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long? They are a young, married couple, who buy what seems to be a really awesome house for a great deal. Then, the house starts falling apart, and it takes all of their money plus to make repairs on this house to make it even habitable. Here is a video clip from the movie.
Although exaggerated, these scenarios do happen to more people than one would like to think. Housing problems can range from water leaks to pest infestation, mold growth, lack of heating/AC, running water, etc. Homes may be unsafe, unsanitary, and/or contribute to health problems, depending on the nature of the problem. Some people accumulate doctor bills or choose to stay at a hotel because situations are so miserable. Still, there are landlords who refuse to fix problems and continue to make money from tenants because they are tied into a rent agreement or can’t afford to go elsewhere.
So what does one do when renting and a landlord refuses to make repairs? Should the contract be considered void or court action taken? What if a tenant has no money to move out or to hire an attorney? Does one have to pay when a housing situation is uninhabitable? Better check with the laws in your area.
To find out more about local laws, contact the Housing Authority, listed online or in the government section of your phone book. A Housing Authority can be a guide, as far as your tenant rights, and can also help you through the process of filing a complaint. Consulting with an attorney might not be a bad idea either. If you qualify Legal Aid may be available to you; otherwise, there definitely may be some fees involved.
Before you sign a contract, it is always recommended that you do your home work on the property and the neighborhood. You may wish to consult with other tenants to get their candid response on the housing and neighborhood situation. Before signing any contracts, do a walk through inspection of the place and read the fine print. The last thing you want to wind up with is a deadbeat landlord and certainly not a money pit!