If I’m the A/C unit in my apartment is not working, can I withhold rent until it has been replaced?

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If I’m the A/C unit in my apartment is not working, can I withhold rent until it has been replaced?

I contacted the rental office several times. They have come out and masked the issue. It’s been 6 weeks and they are telling me that I need a new unit and they are going to order the unit. This was 2 weeks ago and still no AC.

Asked on June 22, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It depends how hot it has been in Maryland--I'm writing from NJ, and you really haven't needed A/C here yet this season. You can only withhold rent when habitability of the unit--not just comfort (i.e. the law will let you sweat a little) but the ability to use and live in the space is impaired. If it is hot enough in MD that without an A/C, your rental space is becoming uninhabitable, then you should be able to withhold rent. Put the withheld rent aside in a savings account, since when this resolved, you'd have to pay it right away, as you'd have to pay it right away if the landlord tries to evict you for unpaid rent and the judge disagrees with you and concludes that the lack of A/C did not render your unit uninhabitable. Also a good idea if it's hot: get a thermometer and keep a daily log of temperatures in your unit--documentation is helpful if the matter ends up in court.


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