If my landlord refuses to make repairs, do I have to pay rent?

UPDATED: Jan 8, 2011

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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.

Asked on January 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Utah


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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