Do I have to pay rent if there are repair and maintenance issues with my apartment?

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Do I have to pay rent if there are repair and maintenance issues with my apartment?

I have rent due today but there are many things the manager has not kept up on. I have an electrical socket that does not work and another that is sitting open. The porch light has not worked since the day I moved in and the air conditioning filter has not been changed as requested and there is still no carbon monoxide tester. Do I have to pay before these things are done as I called the manager again today but she just kept saying rent; I will have a few day notice and that they will evict me. I’m tired of their treatment.

Asked on January 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Sometimes, a tenant may, after both 1) providing *written* notice to the landlord and 2) giving the landlord a reasonable time to repair (which can mean waiting several weeks), make repairs him- or herself and withhold the cost  of repairs--no more--from the rent. However, withholding rent to force the landlord to make repairs is not allowed; and it's also improper to do this without having provided the proper written notice first. If you withhold rent improperly, you can be evicted; you *may* be able to raise the lack of repairs as a defense to eviction in court, but that does not always work.

The better course is to pay the rent; provide the landlord the written notice to make the repairs and opportunity to do so; then either bring a legal action of your own to force the landlord to repair (which is the best option), or else have the repairs made, get receipts, and deduct only the actual cost of the repairs from rent.


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