Will I have trouble ending a lease if the washing machine no longer works but my a tenant has been given a rent reduction for this?

I am renting my basement on a monthly agreement. My clothes washer broke and I never fixed or repaired it, so the tenant now pays less than the rental agreement specifies because of no laundry services. Since these services aren’t mentioned in signed agreement, will this become an issue if I legally try to end our agreement and have them leave?

Asked on September 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If there is a written lease, you cannot end it except for good cause (e.g. nonpayment; violation of material, or important, lease terms; grossly negligently or deliberately damaging your property), upon expiration, or as otherwise provided for in the lease itself (e.g. if the lease allows termination on notice). If there is no written agreement, the tenant is a month-to-month tenant on an oral lease, and you can terminate his or her tenancy on a months' notice, as well as for the reasons given above.

If the tenant agreed to a rent reduction or abatement as compensation for not having a working washer, the tenant should have no claim against you. If you can show that the tenant has in fact been paying reduced rent for some number of months following the breakdown of the machine, that, plus your testimony (if necessary) would seem to persuasively showed that the tenant agreed to this.

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