What are my rights as a tenant?

14 Replies

I recently moved to Memphis, TN and I'm renting a house for the first time. Three weeks ago I discovered a gas leak and my gas was shut off. Due to extreme cold weather, my water was also turned off so the pipes wouldn't burst. I rent from Revid Property Management and, because past maintenance issues have been such a hassle, I thought I'd try to stay on top of my property manager, the plumber fixing the problem and Code Enforcement to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible. I've contacted Revid's office to ask where I should stay during this time or if I would receive a prorated rent and they claimed they didn't know the policy. My lease states that heat and running water are essential items to live in the house but doesn't state what I should do when these items are condemned. I've paid December rent in full but I've been displace since December 17, 2017. Should I be expected to pay January rent in full? What are my tenant rights?

Uninhabitable since Dec 17th is a really, really  long time...it's still not fixed??? What does your lease say about uninhabitability for this long?, anything? What have they been telling you all this time??

@Account Closed   In some states the tenant is allowed to do what is called in Maryland "Rent Escrow".  You pay your rent to the  court and the court holds your money until the property is fixed. You may have other legal rights like to be compensated for a place to stay.  I would Google something like "tenant rights Your city"  There will often be a free legal aid to help people with Landlord tenant issues. 

@Account Closed - I'm so very sorry you are having to deal with this!  You might also want to post a similar question in the specific Memphis forum to see if locals have an idea of what you can do to get your situation resolved.  

Best of luck and keep us posted!!

Hi, @Account Closed .

I'm so sorry for your recent experience.

I would definitely communicate directly with your landlord.  For better or worse, our local judges view rent payments and maintenance problems as separate issues, which means you have to uphold your end of the bargain even if there is question as to whether someone else is upholding theirs.

In this particular case, I would continue to ask to speak with a supervisor or a supervisor's supervisor until you got the attention of the one who is going to make sure your issues are resolved ASAP.  I know your landlord personally and I know they want to take care of you.  

That is really too bad to hear @Douglas Skipworth .  In many states, including AZ, a Tenant must still pay rent (as you suggested), but can place it in a trust account or court account until the issue is resolved.  Also, many states give the Tenant the ability to make the repairs and deduct it from the rent.

@Account Closed the main thing to remember here is that YOU can't be in breach of your lease in addition to the landlord.  In many states, 1 party cannot bring a case against another party if they are also in breach.  So, make sure you are paying your rent (either to the landlord, or court if allowed).  Second, I would document your communication with the landlord.  Log calls made, and take notes of the call including what was said, and who you spoke to.  Follow-up with an email or mailed letter summarizing what was resolved or discussed on the call.

If nothing is done within the next day or so, I would contact a RE attorney.  This is a clear violation of the landlord's responsibility to provide you a habitable place to live.  

Show up with clothes and a sleeping bag at the management office and make your self at home . tell them you have to live there until the problem is fixed .  That will get their attention 

@Account Closed   from my understanding, so long as the landlord is making reasonable efforts to make the repairs, then they are following the TN Uniform Residential Landlord & Tenant Act. With the weather here in Memphis being so cold, it is possible that there plumbers have a very long list of houses to repair from busted pipes.  If Code Enforcement is involved, I imagine there is a deadline they must meet.

Then everything Douglas said. Rent payments and maintenance issues are 2 separate issues. If you were not to pay and have to go to court, the judge would ask you "Have you missed payments?" and it is a Yes or No answer. He will not want to hear a "No, but....."

They are not obligated to offer a rent credit and it is probably not up to them anyways.  Decisions like that are up to the property owner and if the owner feels the Landlord Laws are being followed, then it is likely they will not want to issue a credit. The whole reason an owner hires a PM is to separate themselves from the tenant so that the PM is Scrooge, not them.

Good luck and I hope your issues is resolved quickly.  Being a refugee in your own city is no fun!

A landlord cannot refuse to rent to persons in a protected class. A landlord cannot provide different services or facilities to tenants in a protected class or require a larger deposit, or treat late rental payments differently. A landlord cannot end a tenancy for a discriminatory reason.

You might try to contact the property owner. They might not know about the problem and they would be pissed to find out of they don’t know. They would want it fixed for you ASAP I should think. 

@Account Closed brings up a very valid point. If you have renters insurance just call them. They will pay for a place for you to stay under "loss of use" and then they will be going after the management company/landlord. As others have mentioned stay within the confines of your lease and make your payments on time. Trust me an insurance company going after them will get their attention because they can afford nice lawyers and will bill for everything. 

Yes pipes bust, gas lines get leaks but a month of uninhabitable property is unacceptable. 

Disclaimer: Not legal advice, just the mindless ramblings of some dolt on the internet.