Can I hold back rent money if needed repairs have not been made?

I called my landlord over a month ago and told them that the bathroom basement floods when it rains. I am talking like it takes at least 4 heavy towels at a time to clean it up. They told me that I would be put on the list for the boys to come out and look at it. About 2 weeks later they showed up and said something about they think that it is coming in from the roof that maybe if they put tar on it the problem would be solved. They said they had some in the shop and would return later that day or the following day and that has been a month ago.

Asked on October 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability, which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes. Flooding clearly constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done.  The landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs. 

When the landlord fails to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable time, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant decides to stay on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.


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