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

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 10 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.


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