In general, a landlord in North Dakota has to repair any issues at a rental property that could affect a tenant’s health or safety. The landlord must repair issues within a “reasonable time” of getting notice from the tenant about the needed repairs.
North Dakota Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs
North Dakota landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:
Garbage containers and removal.
Required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
Features that affect health, safety, or habitability.
If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.
What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in North Dakota?
North Dakota tenants are responsible for repairingany damage they cause to the propertythrough their negligent or deliberate actions.
On a case by case basis, the landlord and tenant can agree in a separate writing for the tenant to handle specific maintenance. For single-family homes only, this doesn’t have to be in a separate writing and can include the obligation to provide heating, hot water, and garbage service.
Requesting Repairs in North Dakota
North Dakota tenants must request repairsby providing the landlord notice about the issue that needs repair.The law allows notice through any method that effectively communicates the issue, although written notice is preferred for documenting the exact timing and nature of the repair request.
How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in North Dakota?
North Dakota landlords have a “reasonable time”to make repairs after getting notice about an issue from the tenant. What’s reasonable is determined case by case, looking at all applicable circumstances. Courts will generally not consider it reasonable to take months to repair an issue.
Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in North Dakota?
North Dakota landlordscannot refuse to make repairsthat are their responsibility. However, refusal to repair does not excuse the renter failing to keep the terms of the rental agreement. For example, a landlord who fails to repair can still evict for the tenant’s failure to pay rent.
Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in North Dakota?
North Dakota landlords arenot required to pay for alternative accommodationwhile they conduct repairs. However, a situation that requires the tenant to move out for repairs may be a constructive eviction that lets the tenant end the lease and stop paying rent after moving out.
Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in North Dakota
North Dakota tenants cansue to force repairs or recover monetary damages, repair and deduct,ormove out and end the lease,when repairs aren’t made in a reasonable time after proper notice.
Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in North Dakota?
North Dakota tenants areallowed to withhold rent, but judicially discouraged from doing so.Courts will usually not agree that a tenant is legally withholding rent if the tenant does not have a court order authorizing this remedy.
Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in North Dakota?
North Dakota tenants canarrange for repairs and deductfrom the rent, when the landlord hasn’t done repairs within a reasonable time after notice. The tenant can only deduct the actual and reasonable expenses from the rent after first paying for the repairs out of pocket.
Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in North Dakota?
North Dakota tenantscan break their lease by moving out,when the landlord fails to do required repairs within a reasonable time after notice. They can also break the lease immediately if the property is destroyed through a casualty that wasn’t the tenant’s fault.
Can the Tenant Sue in North Dakota?
North Dakota tenantscan sueto force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs after proper notice. At the court’s discretion, tenants may also recover attorney fees.
Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in North Dakota?
North Dakota tenantscan report landlords for code violationsthat affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.
North Dakota landlords arenot clearly prohibited from retaliating against tenants.Case law implies that tenants may be able to sue for retaliatory evictions related to maintenance complaints or non-renewal of a lease. However, there is no clear standard in the law yet.
“In case of noncompliance with the requirements of subdivisions b through f of subsection 1 [landlord and tenant responsibilities for maintenance], a reasonable time shall be allowed to remedy such noncompliance.”
“If within a reasonable time after notice from the lessee of dilapidations which the lessor ought to repair the lessor neglects to do so, the lessee may: 1. Repair the premises and deduct the expense of such repair from the rent; 2. Recover it in any other lawful manner from the lessor; or 3. Vacate the premises, in which case the lessee shall be discharged from further payment of rent or performance of other conditions.”
“A landlord of a residential dwelling unit shall: a. Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety. b. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. c. Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition. d. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord. e. Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal.”
“A landlord of a residential dwelling unit shall supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat, except if the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose or if the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection or if the water or heat is unavailable due to supply failure by a public utility.”
“An approved carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in dwelling units within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.”
“A tenant of a residential dwelling unit shall: 1. Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety. 2. Keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit. 3. Periodically remove all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste from the tenant’s dwelling unit, and dispose of them in a clean and safe manner. 4. Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits. 5. Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises. Page No. 5 6. Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so. 7. Conduct oneself and require other persons on the premises with the tenant’s consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the tenant’s neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.”
“4. The landlord and tenant of a single-family residence may agree in writing that the tenant perform the landlord’s duties specified in subdivisions e and f of subsection 1 [garbage, heat, hot water] and also specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, and remodeling, but only if the transaction is entered into in good faith.
“5. The landlord and tenant of any dwelling unit other than a single-family residence may agree that the tenant is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling only if: a. The agreement of the parties is entered into in good faith and is set forth in a separate writing signed by the parties and supported by adequate consideration. b. The work is not necessary to cure noncompliance with subdivision e of subsection 1 [landlord’s obligation to provide heating and hot water]. c. The agreement does not diminish or affect the obligation of the landlord to other tenants in the premises.”
Courts have not provided clear guidelines on reasonability, but have not yet affirmed a period of multiple months as reasonable for any single issue. In general, the lease and other representations made by the landlord are held to control. See, e.g.,Cap Partners v. Cameron, 599 N.W.2d 309, 310 (N.D. 1999) (holding that it was unreasonable to take months to fix various issues after notice); see alsoPeterson v. Front Page, Inc., 462 N.W.2d 157, 158 (N.D. 1990) (holding that it was unreasonable to fail to make repairs after 15 days, when this was the period represented in the lease)
“The leasing of real property terminates: 1. At the end of the term agreed upon; 2. By the mutual consent of the parties; 3. By the lessee’s acquiring title to the property leased superior to that of the lessor; or 4. By the destruction of the property leased.”
“Any right or action provided by sections 47-16-13.1 through 47-16-13.6 [landlord and tenant obligations] is enforceable by action and the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.”
“…this eviction action was not the appropriate venue for a claim for retaliatory eviction. …In an eviction action, ‘the right to the possession of the real estate is the only fact that can be rightfully litigated unless damages or rent is claimed.’ We conclude Johnson’s counterclaim for retaliatory eviction is not appropriate in this action, because it does not involve a setoff for damages or for rents and profits.”