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1. Ensure that his property fit for occupation by tenants and see to that the property complies with all local and state building and health codes, which materially affect the tenants' safety and health.
2. Undertake and pay for ordinary repairs arising from normal wear and tear.
3. Refrain from shutting down electricity, water or gas, unless they are on separate meters and are mentioned in the lease agreement.
4. Provide tenants a written notification in case of a change of ownership.
If your landlord is one of those who are slow to respond to your pleas for repairs, here are a few steps that you should follow.
1. Notify your landlord about the issues you are facing through a telephone call and by certified mail (request the return receipt). Document all your communication. Log the time, date and outcome of each call made to your landlord. Maintain a record of all the written correspondence.
2. Get a friend to act as an objective witness and gather photographic evidence of the problematic areas. Label these photographs. Make sure that the objective witness signs the time, date and labels.
3. If the problem you are facing is heat. Log the temperature readings of the problem areas.
4. Finally, contact your housing department, requesting them to inspect your unit to see if it fulfills the various housing codes.
If even after this your problems are not fixed, you can withhold rent till the landlord makes repairs to make the property habitable. Each state has its own definition of 'habitable', so make sure that you research the requirements for your state. In such cases, the landlord cannot terminate your lease agreement for withholding rent. In case your landlord sues you for unpaid rent, you can use the documentation you have collected as counterclaim and proof of why you have been withholding rent.
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