Posted in Blog  
  on Sep 09, 2015

Tenant Rights and Hot Water

In just about every jurisdiction, landlords are required to provide tenants with a living space that is safe, healthy, and livable. The definition of what constitutes what must be provided to make the space this livable may vary, but one of the basic items that must be provided in every jurisdiction is hot water. If there is a hot water issue within a home, then it generally qualifies as being a 24 hour emergency repair. If the repair is not made after a written notification to the landlord is made, then the tenant may be able to break the lease without penalty. Depending on where the property in question happens to be, a lack of hot water may also allow the tenant to take the following actions if they choose not to move out without notice.

  1.  Withhold their rent to make the repair on their own if there is no response from their written request for hot water repair.
  2.  Pay for the repair needed to have hot water again and then charge this cost to the landlord through an invoice.
  3.  File a lawsuit against the landlord for not providing conditions as indicated in the leasing agreement.

The reason why a tenant has these options is that landlord-tenant laws have an implied warranty of habitability included with every rental arrangement. Tenants have an expectation to live in a home that meets their basic needs. The structure should be intact, not develop mold, be susceptible to pests, and have hot water available.

What About Hot Water That Runs Out?

The provision that landlords must generally follow is to provide a “reasonable” amount of hot water. This means a tenant can potentially use up all of their hot water and the landlord would not be liable for this fact. For example: if a tenant takes a 45 minute shower every day and leave their child with no hot water for an additional shower, then this would be a tenant issue instead of a landlord issue. Where shades of gray begin to form are in how the hot water is provided compared to the size of the household that occupies a rental property. A single person, for example, could have a 20 gallon hot water heater and probably have their reasonable needs met. If a landlord rents a home to a six person household, however, that 20 gallon hot water heater isn't going to meet needs very efficiently. In the latter circumstance, the 6 person household could have a potential claim against a landlord who doesn't upgrade the hot water system.

Hot Water Is Considered a Major Repair

The problem that many landlords have with hot water repairs is that they tend to be expensive. If the hot water heater fails, then there is the cost of a new appliance and the emergency labor required to install it. There may need to be additional plumbing repairs needed to install the new unit. This type of repair could easily reach $1,000 or more, which might exceed the amount of rent that is paid each month. Because hot water is considered an essential service and a tenant right, it is always considered a major repair because it is needed to provide habitable conditions. Sometimes hot water can be considered a minor repair because it is being provided, but not in a way that is satisfactory to standards or preferences. No hot water would be a major repair. Having hot water that is heated to 5-10 degrees lower than what landlord-tenant laws stipulate would be considered a minor repair. Both would need to be completed, but minor repairs can often be completed in a 10 day window instead of a 24 hour window.


If a hot water heater is leaking, but still providing hot water, then a landlord may wish to consider it a major repair. After notifying a landlord of a leak, the tenant is not responsible for the maintenance of the hot water heater. This means the water can get into the walls, flooring, and other components of the structure and cause additional damage to the structure that may make it eventually uninhabitable. The statutes that govern hot water can vary somewhat from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but there is always a requirement to provide a water supply and a way to heat it up. You may be required to heat it to specific temperatures or provide specific amounts. Check your local laws if you're unsure to determine what tenant rights and hot water regulations must be followed so every rental unit can meet the legal standard.


Most Important Landlord Tenant Laws in Texas

When it comes to having a tenant for the first time, it can be pretty daunting because you are going to be the corresponding landlord and a new relationship will emerge, which will need time to grow... More

The Landlord Tenant Board: What it is and When it is Needed

Many times, there are issues between a landlord and a tenant that need to be resolved but are failed to do so, because both parties have gone too far with their actions, and have retaliated in the... More

The Landlord Tenant Laws in California

The landlord and tenant laws in California are literally the same as they are in any other state. These laws, rules and regulations are put into practice because they uphold an order, a discipline,... More

Understanding the Landlord Tenant Laws in Illinois

People are aware that there are different rulings in each state with reference to the landlord/tenant laws. The state of Illinois also has a set of laws. These rules and regulations are basically... More

How to Create a Residential Lease Agreement

Where there is a landlord, there will also be a tenant, and it is no surprise that these two parties can only work together once there is some sort of agreement, contract or a binding deal in place.... More

The Best Sites for Rental and Lease Agreement Templates

Many landlords find it difficult to write and draft a lease agreement. Since every State has its own general template, it can also be difficult to make sure your lease agreement meets all the criteria... More

The Landlord Tenant Act: What Landlords Need to Know

All landlords know that before they can formally become a landlord there are a lot of things they need to understand. Landlords and tenants cannot act as such without any legal bodies involved. That... More

5 Landlord Forms that Every Landlord Should Have

When it comes to being a landlord, one should know that it is not for the unprepared individual. This should be clear that being a landlord does not simply mean that you will be taking the rent and... More

Landlord Obligations: The Responsibilities of a Landlord

Becoming a landlord is a major deal and no one can simply get up and think, “well, yes I think I should be a landlord and rent out my flat.” If you are thinking that you would like to be a landlord,... More

The Best Landlord Associations for Landlords to Join

If you’re a landlord and want to manage your business in a better way, you should endeavor to get in touch with those industry experts who have the experience and the skills to help you do it. This is... More