Repeated problems with brand new apartment

October 24, 2017

Dear Consumer Ed:

I recently moved into a brand new apartment.  Since this apartment complex was newly built, I expected a well-running and well-maintained home.  However, there has been one issue after another, including the HVAC not working properly, an inoperable toilet, a window leak, and a broken lock on the storage unit.  The manager is working on fixing these problems as we go along, but do I have any recourse in this situation?  After all, when I signed the lease, I was led to believe that the apartment was in great shape. 

Consumer Ed says:

Unfortunately, tenants who move into brand new apartments do not have any extra recourse in the event that the apartment is not in the shape that the tenant expected.  However, there are some options available to you, considering the circumstances. 

The first thing you may want to do is consult the Landlord-Tenant Handbook, which can be found on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ website.  The Handbook has a discussion on repairs and maintenance, as well as breaking a lease.

According to the Handbook, the landlord has a responsibility to keep the rental property in good repair.  The landlord is responsible for maintaining the building structure and keeping operational systems running such as the electric, heating, and plumbing.  The landlord is also responsible for repairing any appliances, including heating and air conditioning, included in the rental unit. 

A landlord should be given a reasonable amount of time to fix repairs after the tenant makes him or her aware of the problem.  It is always good for you as the tenant to provide written notice of the necessary repairs so that you will have evidence that the landlord was aware of the need for repair.  If your landlord fails to make the requested repairs within a reasonable amount of time after being notified, you have two options.  One option available to you is to file a lawsuit against your landlord for failure to repair.  You also have the option of “repair and deduct,” whereby you can arrange for and pay a competent repair person to perform the needed repair at a reasonable cost and then subtract the repair costs from your next month’s rent.

If you are considering breaking your lease, you should first read it over carefully to see what the terms are concerning lease termination and renewal.  There may be a provision in your lease that gives you the ability to end the lease prior to the lease’s termination date.  If so, you will need to follow the terms of that provision. 

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.