Under what conditions can I withhold part or all of my rent payment?

UPDATED: Dec 3, 2011

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Under what conditions can I withhold part or all of my rent payment?

The building I have my business in is in a strip mall and I have been here for 5 years. For the last 2 years, there has been a sewage smell in my office off an on, but for the last 3 weeks, it’s been consistent, everyday when I turn up my heat to 71 degrees. Property manager has been notified numerous times within the last 2 years with phone calls and emails about the issue however all attempts to fix the problem have failed. We are on our 3rd property manager. I can’t take the smell anymore and due to the nature of my particular business, other people are affected and its affecting my business.

Asked on December 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Iowa


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately for you in a commercial lease setting that you have for your business, you cannot withhold any part of your monthly rental owed your landlord. The way to resolve the problem that you are having with the sewage smell would be to have the health department and your local permit and building department make an inspection of the property to ascertain of there is a health or some other problem resulting in some issuance of a citiation to the owner or some other business for the smell.

Until that happens you have to pay the rent unless your lease is coming to an end and your want to relocate.

I would also speak with your landlord about the problem and see what else can be done to resolve it and if you will be afforded a rent reduction. If that does not help, I suggest that you consult with an attorney experienced in commercial leases.

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