If my landlord refuses to make repairs, do I have to pay rent?
The repairs have been needed since before I moved in, and although I've made the request in writing (and even filed a copy with the court in response to an eviction action several months ago) she has flat out refused to make the repairs. Do I have to continue asking? Can I legally withhold rent? What are my options to get the repairs done? I've considered moving out, but then I would probably lose my deposit, which I can't really afford. Also, I am now current on rent.
Every tenant has the right to the "warranty of habitability". This is an implied right in every lease giving a tenant the right to live in a clean and safe premises. Accordingly, if your landlord refuses to make necessary repairs, you can:
- Repair and deduct - You can fix the problem and then charge your landlord for reimbursement;
- Withhold Rent - You can withhold any further rental payments until the heat is restored; or
- Terminate your lease - You can choose to end your tenancy and move.
However, you need to first consult with a landlord-tenant attorney before pursuing any of these remedies. If you fail to follow the proper procedures for attempting any of these self-help measures you could be held financially liable. At this point either hire a lawyer or contact a tenant's rights organization. Depending on your income, you could also ask Legal Aid for assistance or the state/county bar association. A local law school clinic might also be of help to you.