Ask Consumer Ed: Renter's rights

Ask Consumer Ed: Renter's rights

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John Sours of the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection. John Sours of the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection.
ATLANTA -

Georgia consumers sometimes just need a little expert advice on their finances, their home, or their car.

Twice a month the I-Team will bring you a new segment called Ask Consumer Ed. You ask the questions and the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection will give you an answer.

Consumer Ed received a letter about an apartment that was flooded -- soaked from a plumbing issue. She says her landlord was good about it for a few days. Then, he said she'd have to find a new place to stay for a while on her own dime.

According to the state, you have an option called repair and deduct. You make reasonable repairs on your own with a plumber, then deduct it from your rent. Remember don't go overboard with repairs - just the basics and keep your receipts.

If you think you're living in dangerous conditions and nothing is being done - call the city or county code inspector. If you're right, he can pressure your landlord to fix the problem quickly.

If you simply can't live in the apartment in this condition, Consumer Ed says you have the right to "constructive eviction."  This relieves you of paying rent if ordinary repairs keep your apartment unfit to live. And don't forget to gather repair estimates from legitimate professional contractors.

Then, if all else fails, you can sue your landlord.

"People should be aware, however, that if the damage is less than $15,000, they can go straight into a magistrate's court in the county of their residence and they don't need an attorney there, although it's still a good idea to have advice before you go to court," said John Sours with the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection.

To read consumer Ed's newsletter, click here!

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