Morehead City, NC asked in Landlord - Tenant and Municipal Law for North Carolina

Q: I am a disabled veteran who currently lives with a friend/homeowner who does not want to fix ac and other problems.

Instead of having a new ac unit installed she is relying on the old unit being refurbished. Yet I pay for utilities and other miscellaneous bills including a bathroom remodel. It's not safe for my condition to continue to stay here if these problems persist. As a disabled veteran what are my rights and can I take this to court.

1 Lawyer Answer
Lynn Ellen Coleman
Lynn Ellen Coleman
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: In general, if there is a condition that makes things unsafe and a health hazard - lack of running water, lack of useable toilet bathtub or shower, leaky sewage, standing water or leaks causing mold,unsafe electrical system, rotten stairs or floorboards, lack of operable locks, for example - the landlord must make repairs expeditiously. If you think things are so bad that the housing code has been violated, contact the city or county housing inspector.

Do you have a written lease? Does it call for a specific term (does it have an end date)? If not, what are the terms of your verbal lease (agreement)? The landlord is responsible for maintaining existing appliances and heating/air systems to working condition, but beleive it or not, a working air conditioner is not required to be provided by a landlord under existing North Carolina law. You are way too vague about the "other problems" for any lawyer to give you specific advice. In fact, online message boards are not really an appropriate place to get specific advice. If there is a written lease, a lawyer needs to review it or else any opinion is just speculation.

I mention this because if you are on a verbal or written agreement that is "month to month", the landlord only has to give you seven days notice to vacate and then can file a summary ejectment action against you if you do not leave. If the conditions are annoying but not causing imminent harm, you should just start looking for another place to live. As a disabled veteran, there are agencies available to assist you in finding more suitable place to live. Call 211 or search for local agencies.

The only reason you would want to go to court is to sue for a rent abatement (reduction in rent) for the duration of a longer term lease until repairs are made and quite honestly, the amount of reduction in your rent that a magistrate would give would be so small it might not be worth it. In addition, if you have a written lease that has not expired, your friend has absolutely no legal obligation to give you a lease renewal once it expires. If you sue, you can guarantee that a renewal will not be offered to you. It's obvious this person is not as much of a friend as they once were, so perhaps it is best to move on.

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