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Can you withhold rent from a landlord because he hasn't repaired things that need to be repaired??


The problem is a septic/plumbing problem. He's known about it for 3 weeks now. He had someone come in and dig around the septic tank--that's it. Apparently when the septic was put in, the piping/drainage was installed incorrectly. He instructed us to "use as little water as possible". This is definately a costly repair, so it's not really something I could pay for to fix and take it off the rent. Also, from what I understand, the septic isn't up to code in the county I live in..which is in Virginia. Not sure what to do...I feel that the landlord needs to get on the ball and get the problem resolved.

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I would not withhold rent - yet, especially since you haven't defined how long it has been since you first made your request or how many request you have made.

    Write a courteous letter to you landlord requesting repair. If you have requested this repair in the past, cite this fact. Mail it to him, but pay a little extra for proof of delivery. Check your lease agreement to check what the consequences are if you withhold rent.

    What you are doing is documenting the problem. This can be used as evidence if you are taken to small claims court or arbitration. If you simply withheld rent, the landlord could claim that "claims" of maintenance as a ruse for non-payment of rent.

  • 1 decade ago

    It depends. If the repairs you are requesting are aesthetic, then I would say no.

    If however, there are serious safety issues or issues that would cause the apartment not to get a c/o, then yes you can. BUT, the rent is supposed to be held by a third party (i.e. a lawyer) until the dispute is resolved.

    The timeframe for the repairs is also something that needs to be taken into consideration. Asafety issue has not been corrected in months will carry more weight in court than a light bulb being out for a week (assuming it did not create a safety issue).

    Source(s): Personal experience
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The only legal way to do this is to go to housing court and get a rent escrow in place, where you pay your rent to the courts, and they pay your landlord only when the work is done.

    Before you do this, try putting your demands on paper with certified mail, giving a reasonable timeframe (7-10 days?) for the work to be done, or you will be forced to seek your legal remedies. Make it clear you don't want to go to court, but you can't continue without the work being done.

    You'll want to show the court, if it gets that far, that you've tried to resolve the problem yourself first. Always keep records and copies of everything you mail, and make sure everything you do discuss verbally is put on paper, even if it's just a logbook you keep that you talked to him this date & time, this is what was discussed.

    Don't just not pay your rent, as you will be in violation of your lease terms. And do not pay for the work yourself and assume it can just be deducted from your rent. Without the right written agreements, you could just lose that money too.

  • Before you wthhold rent, review your lease and check on your state's laws. In North Carolina, if you withhold rent for repairs, you face eviction, and state laws do not allow a tenant to do withhold rent unilaterally.

    Instead, North Carolina has "constructive eviction." that means, the landlord, by not making the rental unit liveable, has effectively forced you to move. As damages, you can recover three times the cost of moving to a new place.

    My suggestion would be to notify the landlord IN WRITING of the necessary repairs. Often, the best thing to do is call them and the phone, then send a letter (or a fax) and either send it certified mail with return receipt or keep a copy of the fax transmission report.

    Source(s): REALTOR/Broker in NC
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  • 1 decade ago

    If you should decide to withhold rent, make sure you set up an account (checking or savings) to put the money into. This way, when he tries to evict you for non-payment, then you will be able to prove to the courts that you are willing to pay the rent provided the repairs are made. Also make sure to document what repairs are needed and take pictures (if possible) to use as proof of what needs to be done.

    Good luck!

    Source(s): This is what a judge told me when I was evicted for the very same reason.
  • 1 decade ago

    yes but you should be smart about it, record a conversation that you are asking him by name when he will get around to the repairs, IE: say(mr. or mrs.) say there first and or last name= oh mr, so &so, (or how ever you would normaly adress him/her) "do you know when you will be abel to get around to fixing the_____ &____________ that I told you about (date u first mentioned it). This works best if the landlord dose not know you are recording,You will get a more true to nature response,also this way they dont have time to cover there back sides or to do something to hurt you. you might figer a way to bring up the date,or as them in a off hand way if they know what the date is. , 2. you can send a letter, keep a copy for yourself to be extra safe send it to where he has to sign for it(certified)but this could put a dent in your safty net of surprise can go t small clames court(they will tell you about the certified letter so its best to go there as soon as you have sent the certified letter,take proof that you sent it.They will put the rent money into escrow, landlord has 30 days to fix all of the issues and has to prove it,if he dose not or for any reason he losees the judgment you get back all that you put in to escrow, and normaly the judge will order landlord to repay your deposit and court cost if you had to pay it( depencs on income and cercumstancees) added+ doing things this way, if the landlord starts harrasing you after this, you call the police, show them paperwork and explain what all has happened, They will deal with the landlord.Even if landlord tries to start trubel after all the issues get setteled.

  • Blicka
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Perhaps, it depends on your lease agreement.

    If you just stop paying, he can evict you. You can however, send your ladnlord a letter certified mail (so there is a record of it) telling him that you expect it to be fixed and that you will be with holding rent until it is fixed.

    This my not do wonders for the next time your lease is up for renewal though, I'd simply send him/her a letter certified mail saying that you expect it to be fixed. The second your landlord sees the certified letter, he/she will know you mean business and repair it.

    Also, if it is a washer/dryer, they don't actually have repair it. The only thing they are responsible to provide is a bathroom, electricity, plumbing, and heat. A washer/dryer is not essential for 'home survival.'

  • 1 decade ago

    yes go out and fix the problem yourself and take it off the rent. Show him or her the receipts and give them the rest of the monies owed for the rent for the month. Simple isn't it?

    I would suggest writing or typing a letter to them suggesting they have 30 days to fix or you withhold money for rent. If they do not then fix the problems then fix the problems and take it off the rent that is owed.

    Source(s): i know ..i had a slum-lord a few times in the past!
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Sort-of. If its a major issue-- no heat or hot water, no electricity, etc, then you take the money you'd normally give him and you put it in a seperate account and hold it there. That's your best bet if you ever went to court-- to show your good faith. DO NOT just spend the rent money.

    If its small fixes then document everything and continue to notify him-- on paper-- and then use that to get out of th elease if you have one.

    I watch small claims court on tv all the time and usually you only owe 50% rent if theres no heat or hot water.

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