If the tenant gives notice of the repairs that are needed, and landlord does not respond by making the repairs within a reasonable time, a tenant may file a civil complaint with the court asking the Court to order the landlord to correct the problems. As part of that complaint, the tenant also may ask the court to reduce the rent until the landlord makes the repairs. And, the tenant can ask the court for an order releasing the rent to the tenant or a contractor, in order to have repairs made. In urgent situations, the tenant may ask the court for an emergency order in the case, by filing a motion for a temporary restraining order, to address urgent conditions like no heat or water immediately, before a hearing can be held.
The tenant also can terminate the rental agreement and leave the property. A tenant may choose this option if they are in a long-term lease, and don’t foresee being able to work with the landlord. The process of terminating the rental agreement does not require court approval, but it does come with some risk. If a landlord later sues the tenant for rent for the balance of the lease, the tenant must be able to show that the bad conditions existed, the tenant gave notice to the to the landlord, and the landlord did not make the repairs. The court then must determine that the conditions were severe enough to justify the tenant terminating the lease.
Finally, a tenant whose landlord fails to make repairs after notice and a reasonable time, may be able to recover money damages from the landlord, for a loss in use or value of the house or apartment, or for the value of personal property damaged or destroyed by the landlords’ failure to make repairs.