Can Tenants Withhold Rent Until Repairs are Made?

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Some states allow tenants to withhold rent until major fixes are made. The rules vary from state to state, and tenants can be evicted if the state’s procedures are not followed or if the state prohibits it. For this reason, tenants should be very careful when using this remedy to fix their problems.

Rent Withholding

About 80% of states allow tenants to withhold rent until essential repairs are made. These states may offer restrictions about the types of issues that tenants can withhold rent for, the amount they can withhold, details about the timing and content of the notice the tenant sends the landlord, and sometimes requires the rent be placed in an escrow account. If a tenant fails to meet these requirements, the tenant may be successfully evicted. Therefore, tenants should consult with a local lawyer before engaging in rent withholding, or at least fully read the process and requirements. This is usually not available when the tenant caused the problem.

Escrow

Many states that do allow rent withholding prohibit tenants from simply not paying rent. They must deposit in an escrow account, or a neutral third party who holds the money until the fixes are made. Some states, like Maryland, require that a court acts as the escrow. There are often pages on the state website that describe the procedure. Other states allow tenants to place the rent in a private escrow, like a bank. In those states, tenants can visit their own bank to start an escrow account. The banker can walk a tenant through the process. Usually, there is a fee involved.

Deduct Costs from Rent

It's important not to confuse deducting repair costs from rent with rent withholding. The rules about withholding rent and deducting the cost from the rent are very different - some states allow one and not the other. While about 80% of states allow tenants to withhold rent until essential repairs are made, only two-thirds of states allow tenants to deduct the cost of essential repairs from their rent. Similar to withholding rent, the rules vary heavily by state and failure to follow procedure can result in eviction.

Eviction for Withholding Rent

Most state laws protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their exercise of a legal right. The tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that it was in retaliation for using these rights. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory eviction.

Rent Withholding


About 80% of states allow tenants to withhold rent until essential repairs are made. These states may offer restrictions about the types of issues that tenants can withhold rent for, the amount they can withhold, details about the timing and content of the notice the tenant sends the landlord, and sometimes requires the rent be placed in an escrow account. If a tenant fails to meet these requirements, the tenant may be successfully evicted. Therefore, tenants should consult with a local lawyer before engaging in rent withholding, or at least fully read the process and requirements. This is usually not available when the tenant caused the problem.

Escrow


Many states that do allow rent withholding prohibit tenants from simply not paying rent. They must deposit in an escrow account, or a neutral third party who holds the money until the fixes are made. Some states, like Maryland, require that a court acts as the escrow. There are often pages on the state website that describe the procedure. Other states allow tenants to place the rent in a private escrow, like a bank. In those states, tenants can visit their own bank to start an escrow account. The banker can walk a tenant through the process. Usually, there is a fee involved.

Deduct Costs from Rent


It's important not to confuse deducting repair costs from rent with rent withholding. The rules about withholding rent and deducting the cost from the rent are very different - some states allow one and not the other. While about 80% of states allow tenants to withhold rent until essential repairs are made, only two-thirds of states allow tenants to deduct the cost of essential repairs from their rent. Similar to withholding rent, the rules vary heavily by state and failure to follow procedure can result in eviction.

Eviction for Withholding Rent


Most state laws protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their exercise of a legal right. The tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that it was in retaliation for using these rights. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory eviction.

Last Update : July 22, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Withholding Rent Until Repairs Made

9 days ago
0
votes

Can rent be withheld if a landlord doesn’t do anything about a noisy tenant and police have been involved?
Renter in Elizabeth, NJ, USA
Withholding Rent Until Repairs Made
3 days ago
0
votes

Since moving here in Aug. I have not had a days peace! I have yet to feel safe! I have beenbroken into 3 times and have had several items come up missing. I was told to always call the office first , & they will tell me what to do. Iwas told if I wanted to file a police report I could! but it wouldn't have anything to do w/aprt. so, feeling like a full foel after waiting all wkennd.... I did not file! 1st 2 times I have witness 1 of the times the intrudors.... Shaved my kitty cats tail! I

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Renter in Port Arthur, TX, USA
Withholding Rent Until Repairs Made
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