If my apartment has roaches and I pay my rent on time, canI refuse to pay rent until the problem is fixed?

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If my apartment has roaches and I pay my rent on time, canI refuse to pay rent until the problem is fixed?

I don’t have a lease.

Asked on November 4, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't do this. If you withhold rent (or go on a rent strike, as it used to be called), you can be evicted. That is not to say that you do not have rights or recourse--you do. Your permissible options are:

1) Sue the landlord, seeking both a court order forcing him or her to exterminate the roaches and also monetary compesation for the time you've had to live with them.

2) Hire an exterminator yourself, if after written notice of the problem and a reasonable opportunity to respond to it, the landlord has not done so; you may then be able to deduct the actual cost of extermination, but no more, from your rent.

Ideally, you should get an attorney to help you; taking action against your landlord improperly can result in you facing liability yourself, or eviction. But if you cannot or will not hire a lawyer, you could pursue the options above. The key to both is provide written notice of the problem and a chance to fix it, before acting (and be able to document that you did this); and keep paying rent, except in the event of option 2, where ou withhold only what was necessary to pay the exterminator. Good luck.


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