Can I do anything about my landlord?

Q: I bought a house and am trying to get out of my lease that doesn’t end until July. I am moving in April. The landlord said he would try and rent out the apartment so I wouldn’t be stuck with the bill. They posted an add but it had been a month and I started to realize they aren’t calling anyone back. They won’t even call people I sent them from my own ad. Also, I woke up last April with my ceiling leaking. They did not fix the roof until November and my ceiling until this past February. I was unable to sleep in my room because it was unsafe. Is there any way I can sue for not being able to use my bedroom for almost a year? (Swissvale, PA)

A: There is a common-law principal of constructive eviction that allows you to not pay rent in proportion to the percentage of your property that you are by no fault of your own, “constructively evicted” from. In your case, if your bedroom is one-quarter of your apartment space, you could deduct one-quarter from your rental payment. Now, this does not always go over well with the landlord. You should be prepared to defend this in court. Photographs, copies of letters to the landlord memorializing your complaints would help your case if push comes to shove before a District Justice.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.