As a renter, you might assume that a utility like hot water falls under the "My landlord should take care of this..." category. Contrary to what mom always said about assuming, you would be right in this situation. Your landlord is responsible for providing their tenants with a safe, healthy living space. Hot water is one of the amenities that creates a livable space.If your rental suddenly doesn't have hot water, notify your landlord right away. In just about every U.S. state, it is the responsibility of your landlord to handle any issues that arise with your water heater. If you notice that the hot water in your apartment isn't working, you should provide your landlord with a written notification. In most cases, they'll need to handle the situation within 24 hours, as it's qualified as an emergency repair. Most of the time, a broken water heater is considered an emergency repair, your landlord will most likely have to pay a hefty price to have it repaired or replaced promptly. This type of repair can cost upwards of $1,000 or more (so you can understand why a landlord might ignore your request).
If your landlord does nothing about your hot water situation within 24 hours of you notifying them, here's what you can do:
- Pay for the repair. You need hot water to live your life, whether it's to wash dishes or bathe yourself. If your landlord doesn't respond to your request for help, have the water heater looked at and fixed by a professional, then invoice your landlord for the work. If they refuse to pay for the repairs, you can speak with a lawyer about suing them for damages.
- Withhold rent payment. If there's no response from your landlord, you can withhold rent until they have the hot water issue fixed.
- Break your lease. In some cases, you may be able to break your lease because your landlord has failed to provide you with a home that meets your basic human needs. Be sure to examine your lease before you do this!
In any situation where you feel like withholding rent is the answer, know that there are other options first. Stay tuned to Whose Your Landlord for all the best advice when it comes to withholding rent from your landlord. If you have questions or concerns, drop a line below.