Can we loose in court for not paying rent if we have lived here for 3 months and they want fix nothing we have ask them too?

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Can we loose in court for not paying rent if we have lived here for 3 months and they want fix nothing we have ask them too?

Can we loose in court for that reason?

Asked on May 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Although it is not possible to predict the outcome of a particular court case, the nature of the items in your rental which were not repaired will determine whether or not withholding rent was justified.  If the items to be repaired were minor, then withholding rent might not be justified.  If the items to be repaired were housing code violations affecting health and safety, then withholding rent was justified.

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.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs, 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 stays 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.  Not all unperformed repairs constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  Health and safety housing code violations constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  Another alternative for you is to contact your local housing code inspector and if what needs to be repaired in your rental constitutes a housing code violation, the housing code inspector can bring an enforcement action against the landlord for housing code violations to compel the landlord to make the necessary repairs.  Again, not all unperformed repairs are housing code violations, and not all unperformed repairs constitute breaches of the implied warranty of habitability where the above remedies are applicable.

 


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