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Can a tenant legally withhold rent? - Landlord Forum thread 210815







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Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by Akatips (Michigan) on October 21, 2010 @11:59

                              
Tenants gave me a list of repairs to the home upon moving in last month as well as 30 days to fix the issues. The house is up to code, we got the certificate of occupancy last may. The repairs/issues are:

window screens (one needs to be repaired and the other replaced)
refrig - ice maker/water hooked up- we advised them to hire a plumber and deduct $75 from the rent as our plumber was unavailable.
garage door (garage opens, the opener needs to be repaired, however the garage is detached from the house and is too small for them to park in- they use it for storage)
door bell is not working
A/C- i have explained to them and they originally agreed it would be hooked up in the spring when it is warmer.

In the 30 days, we made the following repairs:

closet shelves were installed
window in master bedroom was replaced
lawn was cut
jets in tub in master bath were replaced

We had 30 days to complete all of the repairs, but did not do it because i work full time and am in law school part time- my days are hectic and my husband has had to work 10-12 hour shifts at work as well...also we felt these repairs did not affect their ability to safely live in the home.

i received this e-mail the day before the rent was due stating:

Good Morning,

We just wanted to touch base with you since rent is due tomorrow & all the repairs were not completed in 30 days. Your husband spoke with Robert & advised him that something was going on with his plumber & to go ahead and have the water hooked up to the refrigerator, he said to deduct $75 from the rent for that. I called 4 different plumbers for estimates and the lowest estimate was $100 highest was $160. Also the garage door was not repaired (huge inconvience), your husband said to me the part he ordered didnt work & he doesnt want to pay to have door replaced & he might have to just give us a lock, the suggestion is not acceptable. The screens were not replaced/repaired, a/c not done & when we had the few nice days we realized we cannot do w/out the a/c, door bell not repaired. Robert & I discussed this issue & we will be deducting $250 from the rent this month. Also, until all the repairs are done we will be deducting $150/mo until they are all completed. We feel that this is more than reasonable because we are not getting what we accepted/agreed when we decided to make an offer on your home. We have been in your home for 1 month & there are other things/repairs that we noticed since living there that we havent even mentioned we just fixed them (which shouldn't have been our responsibility).

Thanks

Can a tenant legally withhold rent? I am tempted to just serve them with an eviction notice considering how picky they are being. Any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Re: Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by Micah (Maine) on October 21, 2010 @12:12 [ Reply ]
Why did you agree to all that crap? Most apartments are rented AS IS. If they want improvements then they should buy their own house! These are not major issues. Tenants can in some cases withold rent but it does not mean that they get to keep the money. They need to file papers with the court clerk and pay the money to the court for them to hold. I'd tell them that if they don't like the place that you would be more than happy to let them out of their lease and to suck it bigtime...
Re: Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by Anonymous on October 21, 2010 @13:28 [ Reply ]
The tenants are fussy.
Re: Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by Anonymous on October 21, 2010 @13:55 [ Reply ]
My first question would be is this the first time you have received it in writing? If so you have 7 days from the letter to repair any issues that are a safety concern, such as the screen. All the other things are on a as can basis as long as it is in a reasonable time. They cannot legally withhold unless it is not the first letter. Also legally they cannot withhold because none of it is a safety concern.
Re: Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by OK-LL on October 21, 2010 @14:27 [ Reply ]
You need to take a half-hour and read your state's LL/T law (good practice if your are studying). It will address situation in which the tenant may and may not withhold rent for repairs -- almost every state that allows it only allows it if the tenant make the repairs and the withholding is to pay for the actual repair.
Re: Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by Landlord with only one rental unit on October 21, 2010 @14:28 [ Reply ]
I am a small landlord also. My only tenant last year refusing to pay me the rent over too much oxygen in the air over the backyard ( trees produce oxygen in the nights only ). My atty instructed me not communicating with him in writing anymore (email or letter), and filed an eviction. we are still fighting in court now after 13 months later.
Re: Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by cyg (tx) on October 21, 2010 @14:36 [ Reply ]
Geeze these tenants are a pain in the neck. First of all none of what they are complaining about affect their safety and/or health. I would send them a letter advising them the apartment was rented to them as is. This should have been your response the first time they sent you that letter with that list of repairs. And let them know if they do not want the apartment they can move out and you will release them from the contract and give them their security deposit back less lawfull deductions. No they cannot withhold any rent for those types of repairs. And window screens are not for safety, they are meant to keep any bugs out when you open your window, They do not need that ice maker/water maker it is a luxury not a nessecity as long as the fridge works and keeps their food from spoiling, And as far as the doorbell thats why god invented hands so people can knock, again just a luxury. I had a former tenant try the same bit with me (their was not a toliet paper holder in the bathroom, 1 screen was missing, ridiculous things like that) so I simply wrote her back stating the apartment is habitable and the things she was complaining about did not affect her safety or health and if she wanted to move out I would allow her to be released from her contract and her deposit would be refunded to her less lawful deductions. And if they are on a month to month lease just send them a 30 day notice now.
Re: Can a tenant legally withhold rent? by Polly (MO) on October 21, 2010 @16:55 [ Reply ]
Your first mistake was to let the tenants take control and dictate terms to you. However, you and husband make good money and collect rent too. Why were these repairs not contracted out and taken care of? This was handyman type work. One person could have taken care of all of it.

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