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I had a fire in my apartment building in early June. Am I required to pay rent?

Asked by user in Connecticut.

The fire was suspicious, so far there are no details. We found a secure apartment, but finding the apartment caused me to miss work. Are we responsible for paying rent for June?

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

Rental agreements include an implied warranty of habitability. This means that your landlord is legally obligated to provide you with a livable unit or a reasonable substitute in the event of a fire (or some other event that, through no fault of your own, makes the apartment unlivable).

If your landlord is refusing to provide a suitable substitute while the fire damage is being repaired, you may need to take your landlord to court (rather than simply withholding your rent payment). Generally speaking, this means filing a lawsuit in court. During the dispute, you would place your rent payment in a temporary tenant escrow account (which should be set up at the courthouse). That way, your landlord can't evict you for nonpayment but he also doesn't get the money until the dispute is resolved.

To help you through this process, you should consider contacting a landlord-tenant attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, consider contacting your local legal aid organization.

Keep in mind that this answer might change if there's additional information you haven't provided.

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