Can I withold rent if my landlord has not repaired my weatherstripping and nails that are protuding from the floor?

I have contacted my landlord multiple times about my weatherstripping and it still is not fixed. It is causing my light bill to continuously go up because there is a gap about an inch or more under the door. I also have nails sticking up from the floor and I have 10 month old twins who have already gotten hurt on them. I have asked if we can fix the problems ourselves but we were told not to mess with anything they would come out and fix it. We have also asked them to fix our kitchen drawer and he put nails in to hold it up and it has broken again as well. What should we do?

Asked on July 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, you may not withhold rent to force your landlord to make repairs. What you can do if there is a condition which affects safety or health (and *only* for conditions affecting safety or health) is if the landlord has not corrected the condition within a reasonable time after receiving notice of it, you could hire someone to fix it (e.g. a carpenter or handyman) and deduct the cost of the repair--and only the cost of the repair--from your rent. The landlord might challenge you on that, so be sure you 1) take photos, before and after, to document the problem; 2) keep the receipts; and 3) have the money available to pay IF the landlord takes legal action and a court should side with the landlord (unlikely, from what you say, but possible).


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