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What To Do If Your Rental Unit Is Uninhabitable or Without Essential Services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A landlord of residential property is required to maintain the rental unit in a habitable condition and, unless the lease provides otherwise, furnish certain essential services.  Because the law sets forth different rights and obligations depending on the nature of the problem, it is important that both parties understand whether a problem is one of habitability or one of essential services.

What is Habitability?

Pursuant to NRS 118A.290, a rental unit is not habitable if it violates provisions of housing or health codes concerning the health, safety, sanitation or fitness for habitation of the dwelling unit or if it substantially lacks:

  • Effective waterproofing and weather protection of the roof and exterior walls, including windows and doors.
  • Plumbing facilities which conformed to applicable law when installed and which are maintained in good working order.
  • A water supply which is capable of producing hot and cold running water, furnished with the appropriate fixtures and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law and maintained in good working order.
  • Adequate heating facilities.
  • Electrical lighting, outlets, wiring and electrical equipment.
  • An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage in clean condition and good repair at the commencement of the tenancy. The landlord shall arrange for the removal of garbage and rubbish from the premises unless the parties by written agreement provide otherwise.
  • Building, grounds, appurtenances and all other areas under the landlord’s control at the time the tenancy began that are clean, sanitary and reasonably free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, insects and vermin.
  • Floors, walls, ceilings, stairways and railings maintained in good repair.
  • Ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, maintained in good repair if supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.

What May A Tenant Do If Their Rental Is Uninhabitable?

Step 1: Deliver Written Notice.  Give written notice specifying the problem to the   landlord or the person within this State authorized to act for and on behalf of the landlord for the purpose of receiving notices.  Notice is not required if the landlord receives written notice of the problem from a code enforcement agency.  Click here ( link to pg. ) for information on how to contact a code enforcement agency in your area.

Step 2:  Wait 14 days.  The landlord must use his best efforts to comply within 14 days after being notified, or more promptly if conditions require in caseof emergency.  If the landlord has not,  proceed to Step 3. 

Step 3: Select a remedy.  If, the landlord has failed to fix, or use his best efforts to fix, the problem, the tenant may take any of the following actions:

  • Withhold rent (if the tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent, the tenant must pay the rent into the court’s escrow account to be able to raise habitability as a defense in any eviction action).
  • Repair and deduct the costs of the repair from the rent after submitting to the landlord an itemized statement (Note: the cost of the repair cannot exceed one month’s rent and the tenant must have notified the landlord of the tenant’s intention to correct the condition at the landlord’s expense at the time the tenant sent the notice in Step 1)
  • Terminate the rental agreement; and/or
  • Sue the landlord for damages and/or an order to repair the problem(s).

PLEASE NOTE, these remedies are not available if the habitability problem was caused by the tenant, a member of his household or anyone on the property with the tenant’s consent or if the landlord was unable to remedy the problem because the tenant refused to allow lawful access to the property. 

What Are Essential Services?

Essential services include, but are not necessarily limited to, heat, air-conditioning, running water, hot water, electricity, and gas. 

What May A Tenant Do If Their Rental Lacks Essential Services?

If the landlord either willfully or negligently fails to supply an essential service and the rental unit becomes unfit to live in as a result (ie no air conditioning in the winter might not be sufficient), the tenant may:

Step 1: Deliver Written Notice .  Give written notice specifying the problem to the landlord or the person within this State authorized to act for and on behalf of the landlord for the purpose of receiving notices.  Notice is not required if the landlord already received written notice of the problem from a code enforcement agency).  Click here ( link to pg.) for information on contacting a code enforcement agency.

Step 2:  Wait 48 hours.  The landlord has 48 hours from the time that he receives the notice, not counting weekends or holidays, in which to fix, or use his best efforts to fix, the problem.

Step 3:  Select a remedy.  If, the landlord has failed to fix, or use his best efforts to fix, the problem, the tenant may take any of the following actions:

  • Withhold Rent.  Unlike with habitability problems, the tenant need not pay the rent into the court’s escrow account in order to have a defense in an eviction action;
  • Repair and Deduct.  The tenant may obtain their own essential services (ie a space heater) and deduct the cost from the rent;
  • Move, Withhold Rent, and Sue.  The tenant may move into comparable (ie similarly priced) housing and, in addition to withholding rent during the time that the rental unit is uninhabitable, may sue the landlord for the cost of the other housing that is in excess of the rent that the tenant pays for the rental unit. 
  • Sue the landlord for damages and/or an order to repair the problem(s). If the tenant needs relief quickly, this can be done by filing a Verified Complaint (link to form) in which case the tenant should review What To Do If You Have Been Illegally Locked Out or Your “Essential Services” Have Been Interrupted.

PLEASE NOTE, these remedies are not available if the habitability problem was caused by the tenant, a member of his household or anyone on the property with the tenant’s consent.

 

 

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