Q: Washer leaking, which causes flooding in apartment. Reported to landlord weeks ago. Landlord dismisses emails and calls.
My washer is in a shallow closet in the open area of my loft apartment. When it leaks, water goes under the door and out into the living area. I have slipped on water twice, and a guest of my almost broke her ankle when she slipped. I placed a towel at the door, but that does nothing to stop the water inside the closet. I reported this to my landlord weeks ago, but they have done nothing to resolve the issue.
I know there is legal precedence in NJ that allows me to pay for repairs myself, and deduct that cost from my rent. What do I need to do in order to justify that this qualifies? Also, what can I do to protect myself from retaliation? I pay my rent on time, but I am concerned that the landlord may try to retaliate when I do this.
A: Firstly, you may rest assured that whatever appropriate action you may decide to take, the landlord cannot resort to self help.
My suggest is to do the following.
1) Start and maintain a log of the dates and times of the flooding occurrences. Keep a record of expenses you've incurred because of the problem. As well as third party expenses.
2) Notify the landlord in writing of the problem and if known to you, the required repairs.
3) If possible, deliver the notice personally bring a witness with you when delivering the demand to repair. Have someone who has a smartphone which can date and time a photograph. Take a picture of you handing demand to the landlord.
4) If the landlord is not convenient send notice via USPS certified mail, return receipt required, or by FedEx, UPS with signature required.
5) Open an savings account at a local bank entitled " Rent Escrow Account."
Pay the required rent, in a timely fashion, until the landlord addresses the problem.
6) If landlord does not address the problem after a reasonable waiting period, obtain a reasonably priced home appliance repair service, pay the service and place rent then due less the cost of repair into the escrow account.
7) When you first occupied the premises, did the landlord provide with a certificate of habitability from the municipality?
8) If a security deposit was required to be paid, did it exceed a month and one half rent?
9) Did landlord give you the required banking information and remit to you the earned interest less the statutory permitted charge?
10) Did landlord provide you with name and address of provider of heating fuel, property manager, if one, name and address or current contact information for the landlord.
Items 7 to 9 above are important defenses to be used should landlord have failed to comply
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