View Full Version : Can I legally withhold rent for apt repairs not being done?
01-10-2003, 05:57 PM
Disclaimer: I know this varied state-to-state, and circumstance to circumstance.
I just moved about a month ago. After doing so, the ceiling developed a small leak (there was no visible evidence that there was a problem). I promptly reported it to the manager, who advised me that she couldn't do anything while it was raining. I said okay, and put a pan down to catch the water.
Okay, sez I. I do it.
Now...my rent's due, and it hasn't been fixed. I mentioned this to the manager, who told me, and I quote,"it's not raining." I explained to her that I knew that, but if I told her WHEN it was raining, she'd put me off again.
The subject of the rent came up.
She told me that the owner wouldn't knock any off th rent because of it.
In the Louisville, KY, what are my options? Can I legally not pay the rent until the ceiling is fixed?
01-10-2003, 06:03 PM
Dammit. Could a friendly Mod PLEASE change the title to "...repairs NOT being done?"
01-10-2003, 06:11 PM
Is there a housing commission or something similar? I would think there are regulations about habitability. I'd try to find out who handles that. As for whether you can withhold rent, I wouldn't try it. However, I would make my complaint in writing to the owner - registered mail.
01-10-2003, 06:34 PM
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, we tried this because the landlord just wouldn't do his job.
We got evicted.
However, you might want to consider placing the rent into an escrow account, inform the landlord as such and go from there. YMMV, but you might have a better leg to stand on.
Best to talk to a local housing commission or rental authority first, though.
Just in case ...
01-10-2003, 06:49 PM
There's a mechanism under the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance to do this. [Note to Chicagoans: Don't try this without seeing an attorney and/or reading the ordinance. You can't just do this without first meeting some prerequisites.]
No clue as to Louisville. First step is to find out if you have a local tenant ordinance.
01-10-2003, 06:52 PM
I was pissed off at the pandlord for charging me for something I'd never agreed to. I told him that I didn't want to pay it. He said I could not pay him if I wanted, but that he would give me a three-day quit notice and evict me. He said we could go to court. If I won, he's only out a little money; but if he won, then I'd be evicted and he could rent my apartment for $200/month more than I'm paying.
01-10-2003, 06:53 PM
This might be helpful:
01-10-2003, 07:02 PM
As you said, varies state to state ect. In Ohio you can submit a list of building probs, and your rent in full to the local clerk of courts office. They will withhold the money from the owner until repairs are affected and since the money is deposited with the court, you are not held to be delinquent in payment.
As a practical matter, unless you are looking to void your lease and find another apartment I would weigh this option carefully. This will not make you a valued tenant and could lead to a lot of acrimony on the homefront. But if you do want out of your lease, this could be the start of a beautifull paper trail to drag into houseing court.
01-10-2003, 07:14 PM
Thread title changed.
01-10-2003, 09:46 PM
I just had great success merely threatening to do this, carefully citing applicable portions of the Landlord/Tenant Ordinace in Chicago. Go to your friendly neighborhood reference librarian, tenants'' organization, or maybe even your alderman's office (all three were very helpful to me) for advice and a copy of your local ordinance. Read the ordinance carefully, and document all violations in writing via certified mail, return receipt.
It's amazing how much more cooperative my landlord became after I cited the portion of the ordinance which proved that he specifically was responsible for arranging and paying for the maintenance in question, that I intended to withold rent to have it done if he didn't, that I'd caught him in a big lie, that he owed me double my security deposit for failure to pay interest, and that I'd copied my alderman's office on the certified letter I'd sent him. (Search on my username and "landlord" for the whole story.) The alderman's office actually called me when they got the copy of my letter to compliment me on a job well done.
I'm still going to move, but I'm doing it on MY schedule, not his. When I'm gone, I'll decide whether I feel like suing him for his illegal violations of my rights as a tenant. (Oh, and IANAL, but many non-lawyers can handle this stuff with good reading comprehension skills and some cojones. Your local tenant organization should be able to give you some pointers.)
01-10-2003, 11:46 PM
Good advice, Eva, and congrats on your good result. Here's a link to the Chicago ordinance:
(okay, this is probably specific enough to generate the disclaimer. IAAL, but not your lawyer, and you ain't my client. This is general information, not legal advice to you or anyone else. See a lawyer in your jurisdiction if you have an actual lease dispute (or at least, as Eva did, read the ordinance and be careful to follow its terms. If you don't, you're screwed, as statutes or ordinances which change basic common law are strictly construed.)
There's a lot of Chicago landlords who routinely violate the ordinance, knowingly or unknowingly, which gives their tenants a powerful tool. Sanctions for violations can be severe. (The only group which is worse in following the rules are condo developers. They ALWAYS cut corners and screw up. I haven't seen one who didn't short the reserves prior to turnover, and both Illinois and Chicago have remedies that work in this area.)
01-11-2003, 10:35 AM
You local library or police department might have renter handbooks. Ours do & this is a pretty small city. You would want to know the law first, in your city, The Fortress of Solidude. :-)
01-12-2003, 02:36 AM
Before I forget my manners, thanks to Manhattan for correcting the thread title.
01-12-2003, 06:10 AM
And, FWIW, document everything. Take pictures, communicate via registered mail, keep backup copies of everything during the process.
You don't want to get screwed because you trusted someone's word, only to have them swear up and down that they never told you XYZ during a phone conversation. Get it in writing. I'm not saying landlords are lying cheating scum, but they are often tight with a buck, and know from experience how the system can work to their advantage. Many times it's because the tenant just isn't thorough enough with the backup documents.
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