Questions About Breaking Lease After Burglary and No Repair to Window

My apartment was broken into on Monday July 24, 2017 right before 11 am. The thieves used a crowbar or screw driver to break the window locks and plastic window frame on my apartment. I notified my landlord after I came home and discovered the break-in at 5 pm. I sent him text messages at the same time showing the damage to the window. He came by that night to put some boards up to prevent the window from being pushed in or being pushed up.

 

He stopped by the next day (Tuesday, July 25) to put up interior security bars, similar to this. He verbally told me on this day that he would be back in a couple days to to fix the window.

 

On Thursday, July 27, he texted me to tell me that he planned to be by the next day (Friday, July 28) to repair the window. I told him I would be out of town beginning that morning and wouldn't be returning until the following Monday (July 31) and that he would have plenty of time to complete the repair. I planned on being gone for this extended period because earlier in the week he told me it would take several days to complete the repair the window would have to be completely removed and boarded up for a few days.

 

I returned the night of Monday, July 31 and nothing was repaired and he never bothered to contact me to tell me that he was unable to complete the repairs. I texted him the next day about this and he responded that we would talk that Friday, August 4.

 

On August 4th, my landlord texted my at 4:50 pm telling me that he had been in the area of my apartment for several hours that afternoon working on other stuff, but was just leaving the area and figured I was still at work so I should call him to set up a time to stop by the next morning, Saturday, August 5.

 

When my landlord stopped by on August 5 I stated how disappointed I was that my window is still not secure and that as I see it I have every right to break my lease immediately. He didn't see it that way and still wants me to be on the hook for the rent between me leaving and him filling the apartment. At this point he basically said he can't fix the window any more than adding boards to it because it would need to be removed during the repairs and could take several days. He told me he would add new boards that day.

 

Later that Saturday, August 5, my landlord added new boards to my window in an attempt to make it more secure. When I returned that evening I discovered that although the bottom window does not budge, the upper window is still free to move up and down. The broken frame does not allow it to lock or provide a strong enough base for the piece that stop the window from moving up or down more than a few inches to properly engage.

 

I feel like I have grounds to stop paying rent and vacate. Based on this: Source: Brabender Law, LLC

 

To live in a safe environment with essential services.

 

If the landlord violates the rental agreement or the municipal code and such violation causes an immediate danger to the health or safety of the tenant or if the landlord fails to supply heat, electricity, hot water, running water, gas or plumbing, the tenant may:

 

Obtain heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas or plumbing and deduct the cost proven by receipts from the rent; or Sue the landlord for damages based on the reduced value of the apartment; or Obtain alternative housing, not pay rent, and recover the value of the substitute housing so long as it is reasonable and does not exceed the monthly rent. Moreover, a tenant may also:

 

Withhold a portion of rent that reasonably reflects the reduced value, if the condition is not remedied within 24 hours after notification, so long as the problem is not caused by the inability of the utility company to provide service; or Terminate the rental agreement if the defect lasts longer than 72 hours after notice and so long as the failure is not caused by the inability of the utility provider to provide service. The tenant must deliver possession to the landlord within 30 days and the landlord shall return the security deposit, unpaid rent and interest.

 

If not that, then certainly this: Source: Brabender Law, LLC

 

To have the property reasonably maintained**

 

Landlords must maintain the premises in accordance with the law and must make repairs to the dwelling to keep it in compliance.

 

The list of examples of a failure to maintain the property is long, it includes:

 

*Not maintaining windows, exterior doors and basement hatchways; *Not maintaining or providing locks, security devices, deadbolt locks, sash locks and front door window or peepholes;

 

Though the list of potential violations is long, it is not all encompassing. The reality is that landlords cannot let their property fall into disrepair and rent out slum-like property. The RLTO provides remedies to protect a tenant’s rights.

 

The remedies provided for violation of the duty to maintain the property are among the most complicated in the RLTO and all tenants should consult with an attorney before attempting to exercise their rights as landlords often seek to evict or sue tenants when they do.

 

If the landlord violates the duty to maintain, the tenant may:

 

Terminate. Give the landlord written notice of the acts or omissions that violate the RLTO or the lease and specifying that the lease will terminate 14 days after receipt of the notice if the landlord does not remedy the conditions. If the landlord does not fix the problem, the lease terminates and the tenant must vacate the unit within 30 days. The landlord must return prepaid rent, the security deposit and interest.

 

Notify and deduct. In cases of a minor violation, when the cost of repairing is less than the greater of $500 or one-half monthly rent, the tenant may notify the landlord, in writing, that if the condition is not fixed within 14 days of the notification (or less in case of emergency), the tenant will fix the condition and deduct the cost from rent. If the landlord does not fix the condition, the tenant may have the repair made in a workmanlike manner at a reasonable price customarily charged for such work. The tenant then may submit the paid bill to the landlord and deduct that amount from the rent. This remedy is not available if condition was caused by the tenant or his family or guests.

 

Notify and withhold. A tenant may withhold from monthly rent an amount that reasonably reflects the reduced value of the apartment due to the landlord’s violation. If the tenant notifies the landlord of the deficiency in writing and the landlord fails to correct the condition within 14 days after notification, the tenant may deduct the reasonable reduction in value from the rent for as long as the deficiency exists. This remedy is also not available if the condition was caused by the tenant, his family or guests.

 

Damages and injunctive relief. The tenant may sue the landlord for damages or claim the material noncompliance as a defense. The tenant may also obtain an injunction against the landlord.

 

Questions
1. Has anyone else every dealt with an issue like this?

  1. Would a broken window frame / window lock be considered a violation that causes an immediate danger to my health or safety where I could follow the route in option #1?

  2. Does his attempt to repair the damage with boards and not actually repair the frame count as securing and/or repairing the damage?

  3. I was going to sent him a letter today to demanding repairs be made in 14 days or less so I can cover myself for option #2.

 

tl;dr – My apartment was forcible broken into two weeks ago and my landlord has still not repaired the broken window locks or frame since then besides adding boards to temporarily keep the window from moving up or down. Do I have grounds to terminate my lease?

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