Using Receivership Remedy to Hold Negligent Landlords Accountable

In a perfect world, every single landlord would provide a safe, clean, and habitable rental property to their tenants. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect, and some landlords take advantage of their tenants, behave unethically, or are negligent when it comes to adequately caring for their properties and tenants. 


The receivership remedy is one of the tools that the courts can choose to use when responding to a negligent landlord. As the weather gets cooler, we want to talk about the issues that can arise when a bad landlord refuses to fulfill their contractual obligation to provide a safe, sanitary, and habitable unit. 

What Is Landlord Negligence?

Not every tenant-landlord conflict is caused by landlord negligence. For example, a conflict over how much of the security deposit should be returned at the end of a lease is not an issue of negligence. Nor are most disputes over rent or disagreements over when to schedule maintenance. 


Landlord negligence can include things like:

  • Refusing to provide basic utilities
  • Not making necessary repairs to the property
  • Renting to a tenant without a lease (or with an unclear, confusing lease)
  • Failing to provide appropriate pest control
  • Repeatedly violating the terms of a lease

One of the major concerns that tenants often express about negligent landlords is a refusal to provide appropriate heat during the cooler winter months. 

What kind of heat is required?

Landlords can heat their units with any number of safe options, including electricity, natural gas, or even heating oil. As long as the heat is sufficient to keep the property safely warm during cold weather, the landlord is not being negligent.


However, if the heat doesn’t sufficiently heat the apartment, or if the landlord doesn’t provide heat at all, then there is a negligence issue. 


One sign of a distressed property is a lack of sufficient heat. If the property ends up being abandoned by fed-up tenants, it can become an appealing site for squatters. Squatters have been responsible for major fires, including this fire in Oakland earlier in 2021. 

The Risks of Insufficient Heat

Insufficient heat is simply not safe. 


In addition to the health risks for high-risk tenants, fire is another major risk. That’s because tenants are more likely to use space heaters, candles, and unsafe fires to try to keep warm if their heat isn’t working properly. 


Heating homes in “creative” ways is dangerous. In desperate situations, people have used their ovens to heat their homes in the past, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. Space heaters can cause fires, especially illegal kerosene heaters. 

How Can a Receivership Fix the Problem of Landlord Negligence?

Health and safety receivers are court-appointed representatives who take over for property owners and managers who are negligent or absent from their responsibilities. 


When Griswold Law is appointed to manage a health and safety concern as a receiver, our job is to evaluate the situation, determine the best plan of action to remedy any problems that exist, and ensure that the distressed property is rehabilitated to the point where it is safe for residents again. 


We hold negligent landlords accountable. 

To learn more about how Griswold Law provides receivership solutions for all kinds of distressed and abandoned properties, contact us today. 

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