If an apartment complex doesn’t hold up their end of a lease do I still have to pay rent?

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If an apartment complex doesn’t hold up their end of a lease do I still have to pay rent?

My daughter (who as 2 children) and I signed a lease on the 12/29. We made a list of things that needed to be fixed; for example the back door doesn’t lock. And now its 02/01 and still the back door doesn’t lock. Additionally, several other things have not been attended to. We have made several trips to the office to complain and have also made several phone calls. Nothing. Now the rent is due and I want to know where I stand as the tenant?

Asked on February 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Every lease contains an implied "warranty of habitability".  It gives a tenant the right to live in a clean and safe premises.  Accordingly, if a landlord refuses to make such necessary repairs, a tenant may have the right to:  

  1. Repair and Deduct - Fix the problem and then charge the landlord for the cost of repair;
  2. Terminate the lease - End the tenancy and vacate the premises; and
  3. Withhold Rent - Refuse to make any further rental payments until the repair is properly made.

Note:  Before pursuing any of the above remedies, you would be well advised to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney or tenant's rights organization.  If you fail to follow the proper procedures for attempting any of these self-help measures you could be held liable for breach of your lease.  Depending on your income, you could also ask Legal Aid for assistance or the state/county bar association.  A  local law school clinic might also be of help to you.


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