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Your Right to Make Repairs and Pay Less Rent

The right to repair and deduct lets tenants fix a problem on their own by hiring a repair person and deducting it from rent. In most states the repair can't cost more than one month of rent.

If there is a problem with your rental unit that makes it uninhabitable and your landlord won't fix it at all or in a timely fashion, you can fix it yourself and pay less rent. The benefits of fixing a problem yourself are obvious: it will reduce the amount of time you have to spend in a less than ideal living situation, but the downside is that it means more work for you.

State laws make it possible for you to take matters in to your own hands - but only to a point. In most places you can't repair a problem on your own if it's so serious that it would cost more than a month of your rent to fix it. In this scenario you need to withhold rent until your landlord fixes it, or you could leave via constructive eviction.

Ask your landlord first

Even if you plan on repairing and deducting from the get go, you still need to ask your landlord to make the fix and give them reasonable time to handle it. Remember that landlords are required to fix anything wrong with your rental if the problem is making the rental uninhabitable. Save documentation of your request and the problem itself in case you ever have to justify the rent deduction.

Document your actions

At this point, you can start researching contractors, arranging and scheduling the repairs. Pay for the repairs upfront and get the receipts. When you pay your next month of rent include as much documentation as possible, like before and after pictures and the receipts from the contracted work, to prove that you deducted a fair amount of rent.

Next steps

Before you decide to fix the problem yourself, make sure that it won't cost more than a month of rent. If it does then you should withhold rent instead.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.

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