Can you withhold rent from Your Landlord?

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Can you withhold rent from Your Landlord?

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If you feel as though your landlord has somehow violated your quality of life, are you helpless? New York’s Warranty of Habitability guarantees all tenants the right to an apartment that conforms to health, safety, and structural standards.

Along with this comes certain utilities, such as power, hot and cold running water, and telephone service. If your landlord has somehow denied you access to these, then you are legally within your rights to withhold rent until you have them.

Before locking your rent check away it’s important to check with a real estate attorney like those found at the law firm of Adam Leitman Bailey P.C. to make sure that you have a winnable case.

First Steps

If you’re experiencing some kind of defect that negatively impacts your right to a comfortable quality of life, the first step you need to take is to contact your landlord. If you receive no response you should follow up with a documented letter, requesting that the repairs be made by a certain date. Send this by certified mail and keep a copy for your records.

If you have not heard back, then it’s time to take action. You can call 311 to file an official complaint against your landlord and request an inspection to prove that your quality of life has been impacted.

Withholding Rent

New York has set a precedent in which a tenant can legally withhold rent in full from their landlord until the needed repairs have been made to their unit. Once again, it’s important to document all correspondence, as courts will want to know that the landlord was given a reasonable amount of time to respond to the issue.

If the landlord tries to evict you for withholding rent, you can defend against the lawsuit in court by proving that the unit was not maintained as required by law.

Deducting Rent

Sometimes, when landlord negligence is severely impacting quality of life, a tenant can take it upon themselves to make repairs out of their own pocket. This doesn’t mean that the landlord gets away with not paying for their responsibility. A tenant can legally deduct the cost of their repairs from rent until they are paid back in full.

This venture requires even more documentation than fully withholding rent. Not only would you have to prove that repairs were not made in a reasonable amount of time, but receipts would also have to be documented and shown to a judge, proving that the amount you’ve deducted is the true cost.

You Need Proof

A court is not just going to just take your word that negligence has occurred. If you try to withhold rent without the proper documentation, you may find yourself the victim of an eviction. It’s always best to document all correspondence with the landlord, keeping track of dates. Have an official inspection undertaken by the court before withholding any rent. Photos and testimonials also would help in this regard. You can’t have too much proof to aid your case.

But the single most important fact to remember when withholding rent is to retain the services of a real estate law firm. A shrewd expert legal mind is precisely what you need to make sure everything is in order and that you are not opening yourself up to danger.

Author’s Bio: 

Marina Pal is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.

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