If your landlord doesn’t make repairs after you’ve notified him in writing or the Board of Health has ordered him to make repairs, you might have to consider other options, for instance withholding rent.
1. Withhold Rent
One way of getting your landlord to make repairs is withholding some or all of your rent until the landlord makes the repairs. This is termed rent withholding. Renters have a right to withhold rent because property owners have an obligation to offer habitable and safe housing under the habitability warranty.
In the event that the landlord violates this obligation, a renter’s duty to cover the full rent stops until repairs take place. A renter might wish to withhold part or all the rent, depending on the extent of the violations.
The law doesn’t state the amount or the duration in which you can withhold rent. If you’re thinking of adopting this measure, it’s imperative you do it right. Remember, you must fulfill certain requirements before you can take this route.
This is the most direct way of forcing the property owner to make repairs. More frequently than not, it’s the most successful strategy as well. It’s especially successful in a unit where renters agree to withhold their rent.
When you withhold your rent, you’re in a better position to negotiate what you want. Some of the things you can negotiate include:
- The amount of rent you’ll pay while repairs are taking place
- The amount of the withheld rent you’ll return once repairs are over
- The date when the property owner will begin and complete repairs
2. Make Repairs and Subtract the Cost
Depending on your residential area, you might be eligible to use the repair and deduct strategy. In the event that your state doesn’t permit the tactic, examine your local housing laws to establish whether your city has implemented it independently.
If your city or state lacks this statute, the procedure isn’t accessible to you. Not every jurisdiction permits renters to exercise this measure and if they do, it’s only for habitability issues. If this approach is available to you, you’d need to arrange to fix the problem at your expense. The statute will typically specify:
- The situations validating your use of the approach
- The rent amount you can use for repairs
- The frequency with which this approach can apply
Bear in mind that this approach is a poor option when it comes to major repairs such as a roof. The law allows you to fix anything in your rental or in your building’s common areas. If violations affect numerous units or the entire building, a group of renters can join and have the repairs done.
However, ensure that everybody agrees and that you’ve issued the landlord with a written notice of the breaches.
3. Moving Out
If your dwelling isn’t livable and the landlord hasn’t made changes in spite of repair requests and complaints, you can move out permanently or temporarily. You could also move out in the event that the landlord has attempted to remedy the issue but failed.
For instance, unsuccessful attempts to get rid of vermin infestations give you the right to move out. The drastic measures are only justified when the problems are truly serious, for instance, the lack of necessary services.
While rental problems are commonplace, it’s important you know how to address them. If you don’t know how to do so, check this guide.
For more information on what to do if you’re having rental issues, contact us at Apartment Agents or leave a comment.