How best to satisfy a judgment against my landlord?

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How best to satisfy a judgment against my landlord?

I recently won a judgment in small claims court against my landlord because they did not make repairs they promised. They are appealing. I suspect it is because I owe only 1 more month of rent and they do not want me to collect from the rent. Can I withhold it and have the court hold it until the appeal is resolved? MO does not allow small claims to be filed as a lien against property and winner must collect any judgment won so I want to be able to deduct from the rent.

Asked on April 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't withhold the money you owe the landlord pursuant to your rental or lease. Your obligation to pay your rent is independent of any judgments against the landlord, or amounts otherwise owed by the landlord to you. If you do not pay the landlord, he, she, or it will be entitled to proceed to evict you, and may be able to also either sue you for the amount owed or else take it out of your security deposit when your tenancy is over. While this probably puts in a disadvantageous position, the potential downside to withholding the rent likely exceeds the amount of money you hope to recover; however, that is a decision you must make yourself. Simply bear in mind the potential consequences.

Note also if they have actually appealed, then they, in good faith, don't have to pay you yet anyway.


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