Day 8 with no electricity: Renter's rights?

No it isnt. It clearly is forbidden by the lease. You break a lease, you are bounced. It doesnt say anywhere in the lease ‘unless there is a big storm and pwoer outage’

Now if you get written permission from the management company, that would be different … but unless you have a written variance on that, you are shit out of luck.

This is a complicated legal issue. The results will vary depending on the language of your lease, local and state laws, and the attitude of the judiciary among other things. Please talk to a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction about this. One place you can aske legal questions and get answers given by licensed attorneys in your jurisdiction is You could also try here:

While this is the general approach courts take, you’d need to look at the lease, local statutes, and whatever published decisions exist in the OPs jurisdiction. Most cases do talk, when addressing constructive eviction, about the landlord’s ability and unwillingness to remedy a situation, but then there are the warranty of habitability and fitness cases which are less forgiving. *E.g., * Permanent Mission of Republic of Estonia to the United Nations v. Thompson, 477 F.Supp.2d 615 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (neither landlord’s good faith efforts to provide heat nor lease clause requiring tenant to provide heat defeated tenant’s habitability claim). OTOOH, some jurisdictions don’t recognize the implied warranty of habitability and fitness. * Allen v. Greenville Hotel Partners, Inc., *405 F. Supp. 2d 653 (D.S.C. 2005) (South Carolina does not recognize the implied warranty in leases). And others will probably apply a more forgiving standared.

I’m not going to close the thread, but please understand that advice you get here on this topic could be totally wrong. Don’t use this as a substitute for talking to a licensed attorney.

I have spoken to a New Hampshire attorney, and I am following his advice. As Gfactor pointed out, it is a complex issue; without going into detail, my attorney did not blow me off, and what we do next is largely dependent on how long the power outage continues.

I am still interested in the views of others though.

That I would happily fight. Simply put, in the case of a declared emergency, dudes are allowed to take reasonable steps to preserve their life, health and safety. This includes heat.

They could take reasonable steps that don’t involve breaking a contract like staying in a hotel if need be.

A flip side of all this. The damage that can be caused to a house left unheated in the winter can be tremendous, pipes freezing in the walls and such. If a tenant by choice decided not to pay for electricity or heat the property they can certainly be held responsible for the resulting damages.

People die every year from the type of heat that is being talked about here, that takes it out of the reasonable steps.

Yay! Power is back on! Unfortunately, we are in the middle of a nor’easter blizzard that has dumped 12 inches of new snow on NH so far, so I won’t be going home until tomorrow. I hope none of the pipes burst.

My guess would be generally it’s not within the landlord’s power to remedy the situation and therefore he cannot be held accountable. But:

  1. Laws may vary by locality.

  2. Your lease/contract may reference this.

  3. While you probably can’t get out of paying rent, you might have a case for dissolving the lease/contract early and moving out without penalty.

Small chance of propane/CO death vs certainly of hypothermia. And no chance of the first if you’re not an idiot.

Sorry to but a damper on your indignation, but. . .

Even if the habitability issue weren’t due to severe weather, you would have to have given notice in writing, which it sounds like you haven’t done. The landlord would still have up to 14 days to remedy the problem, following your written notice. You’re technically on day 0, since you haven’t provided written notice, but even if you had sent a letter on the first day the electricity went out, the landlord would still have 6 days to remedy. And even if you went to court over it, a judge can grant a one month continuance for the landlord to repair.

But again, none of that is relevant per the highlighted portion in section I (d); Necessary repairs have not been prevented due to extreme weather conditions.

And in either case, you still have to keep paying rent.

If you still aren’t sure, contact these people:

Fair Housing Agency
Commission for Human Rights
163 Loudon Road
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-2767

Your argument on this is terrible. If someone was trapped in the middle of nowhere with no ability to contact the world outside, your argument that the renter could violate a contract for survival could be reasonable. This is not the case. In the US it would be very difficult to even find such a case. If a renter can contact the outside world and travel about to get a propane heater then they can obviously take steps to survive that avoid breaking the contract. The renter could also you know take a reasonable action and ask the landlord if it was ok…

Yes, I have.

The severe weather caused the outage. The severe weather ended 11 days ago. Our power is on, but we still have no heat and no water. The property is still uninhabitable.

Not unless a judge says I have to.

It’s a good thing I spoke to a lawyer.

And yet every year there are news stories of it happening. You fire one off in a house or apartment and you are a canidate for the news.

Well, there are lots of idiots.

This is what I’d call the sort of specific legal advice we don’t give here. Moreover, he’s already spoken to a lawyer. Please don’t second guess the professional’s advice.

General Questions Moderator

Considering he didn’t say what his lawyer told him, I don’t think I’d call highlighting and restating the quoted part of the statute “second guessing a lawyer” or providing legal advice. I even then went on to direct him to who he could call if he still had questions.


I appreciate your input. I simply disagree with your some of your interpretation of the law you posted. And so does my attorney.

It is cold up here in December. Even with a kerosene heater in the basement (since they need venting - how would one do that in an apartment?) and a fireplace it was difficult to keep the house in the mid-50s. Without either, how warm would it be after several days?

No offense, you have to do what you feel is right, but that sucks that a landlord is out money for something completely out of their control. Do you have renter’s insurance that could cover this instead?