Can we withhold rent due to an unsafe living situation?

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Can we withhold rent due to an unsafe living situation?

We’ve been living in our apartment for almost 2 years and have had tons of problems right off the bat. They have ranged from fleas, spiders and termites to a broken window, leaking roof and our water being shut off for a day because the bill wasn’t paid. Not to mention a stair that broke on my husband due to termites. I’ve informed my landlord 3 times about our window and now 4 leaks in our roof. I told her on the last day of grace period that we would be late on rent and she said nothing would be fixed and she was serving us a 3 day pay or quit. Is this legal? What can we do?

Asked on December 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not you are allowed under the laws of your state to legally withhold rent due to unsafe living conditions and not make repairs cannot be done. You can withhold rent and then make the needed repairs. Given the situation that you have written about, I suggest that you contact your local health department and ask for an inspection of the unit. If the landlord is cited, he or she will need to make immediate repairs.

I suggest that you consult with a landlord tenant attorney further about your matter.


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