What is a tenant’s right to reimbursement for repairs that they make to their rental?

UPDATED: Jun 3, 2011

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What is a tenant’s right to reimbursement for repairs that they make to their rental?

We have been living in the same 2-family house for about 8 years now. The original landlord we passed away 4 years ago. He left the house to a neice, including the house. The niece’s husband is a complete jerk and handles everything. He has gone up on our rent every year that they have had the house. They never come here to check on anything. They depend on my husband and I for everything. We had an ice jam this past year when it snowed. Water came pouring though the light in my son’s room. He complained about how much it cost to fix the problem. He told us that we would have to wait to have the room painted, the electricity turned back on and another fixture installed (which was obviously damaged because water came through it). So my husband said he would paint and install the light. We saved this guy a lot of money not hiring a painter or electrician and he still is gonna go up on our rent this year Do we have the right to get estimates and get reimbursed for the work that we did while he just pocketed the insurance check?

Asked on June 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A tenant who makes repairs can deduct the cost from the rent. 

Although your husband already made the repairs, these are major items such as water pouring in through the fixture and no electricity that the landlord should have repaired.  This raises another issue if in the future there are major repairs which the landlord does not attend to within a reasonable time after being given notice.  The issue to raise in the future is the landlord's breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The implied warranty of habitability is in every lease and requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with state and local housing codes.  If the landlord breaches the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant can move out and terminate his/her obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant decides to stay on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.

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