Attorney Kaitlyn Fudge with The Law Offices of James Scott Farin said landlords must keep the place fit to live and safe; provide a smoke alarm; keep heating, air-conditioning, plumbing, sanitary, and electrical equipment and any other provided appliances in working order and comply with any applicable building or housing codes.
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Fudge said, "Any clauses in a lease that excuse the landlord from keeping the premises in a habitable condition are not enforceable. Additionally, a landlord cannot retaliate and evict a tenant simply because that tenant complained or requested repairs for defects that the landlord is required to fix."
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She said one of the most important things renters need to know is they do not have the right to withhold rent unless the tenant has a judicial order. Fudge also said renters need to remember they also have responsibilities, including paying rent, keeping the home clean and safe and preventing damage. To find out more about renter's rights state laws click here.
- If you have issues, report them in writing and get your landlord to sign off on your complaint.
- You need to make sure you document the problems, take pictures and videos that show exactly what you're dealing with and why it needs to be fixed.
- If your landlord will not fix it, file a complaint with the city or town and have the rental inspected.
- If the landlord is not providing what's required by law, they can be cited and fined.
- If your landlord still doesn't take action after all of that you can consider legal action, such as small claims court or an attorney.
Attorney Fudge said tenants who have trouble finding a lawyer may want to try the North Carolina Lawyers Referral Service. For those who qualify, Legal Aid of North Carolina provides free assistance regarding landlord-tenant issues.