One of the advantages to renting in Raleigh is that one is not burdened with the responsibilities that come with homeownership. If and when damage occurs to a property, it is the responsibility of the owner to address it, not any tenants that may occupy it. However, people typically tend to assign priority to tasks that affect them directly, and thus may look for reasons to justify putting off other matters. A property owner may rush to correct any issues that affect the home or building he or she lives or works in, while dealing with problems at other properties in a less timely manner. Yet in such a scenario, can an owner then expect tenants to still be obliged to honor a lease agreement?
That is the very question a Tennessee woman is asking after being uprooted from her apartment after the pipes burst. After assessing the damage, the complex managers claimed that the unit was still livable, and thus asked her to continue to pay rent. She contends, however, that the water damage has destroyed the apartment's floors. She continues to question why she is being required to pay anything even after having come to an agreement to pay rent up through the expedited end of her lease.
A lease agreement is a contract that governs the relationship between a landlord and the tenants. While leases may vary, in North Carolina, the general rule is that a tenant cannot withhold rent due to the landlord's breach of the lease. Indeed, tenants who withhold rent could soon find themselves facing eviction. On the other hand, a landlord who fails to address maintenance issues could be facing a lawsuit from their tenants, who could seek a rent abatement based on the landlord's failure to provide a fully fit and habitable dwelling. Anyone trying to navigate these competing obligations - paying rent versus proper maintenance - may find themselves a powerful ally in the form of an attorney.
Source: NewsChannel5.com, "Landlord-Tenant Dispute Follows Burst Pipes," Jason Lamb, Jan. 4, 2017