When you rent an apartment or home, your landlord has a responsibility to make sure the property is in proper living condition. What constitutes proper living conditions? You should consult your state's sanitary code to determine what these conditions are, but in general, the building should be in good repair, free of pests, free of mold, and any other contaminants or defects that could make the property unsafe. If you become aware of unsafe conditions, it is in your best interest to make your landlord aware of it. If the landlord refuses to take necessary steps to correct the problem, you may consider withholding your rent until your landlord rectifies the situation, but you need to be ready to go to court before you start withholding rent.
The Reason to Withhold Rent
You should not feel obligated to pay to live in unsafe conditions, and if your landlord does not take steps to improve the conditions, you may withhold rent as a means of leveraging your landlord to act. Refusing to pay rent gives your landlord reason to evict you, but they have to take you to court first, and if you can prove that the landlord knew about the unsafe conditions and did nothing to improve them, you will win the eviction case.
Winning an Eviction Case
You should not be scared of going to court. As long as you have prepared a solid case, you have nothing to fear. The following evidence will help you to make your case:
1. Demonstrate that unsafe living conditions exist: You should have a health official visit your dwelling and write a report. Take pictures and video to add substance to the official's report.
2. Prove that neither you nor your cohabitants caused the conditions: If you plow your car through the front of your home, you can't hold your landlord responsible. On the other hand, if you move into a home and immediately discover that it is infested with mold, you can expect your landlord to take care of it.
3. Prove that you talked to your landlord: Keep a copy of any letters that you send to your landlord, have a witness present for any conversations the two of you in person, and document when you talked to the landlord and what was discussed.
4. Demonstrate that your landlord failed to act: Continue to document the conditions in your home. You may also schedule another visit from a health department official to review the conditions in your home.
5. Demonstrate that you stopped paying rent after your landlord failed to act: You can't stop paying rent then retroactively decide that you did so because your living conditions were unsafe. You must go through the previous steps in order to prove that you decided to withhold rent because of unsafe conditions.
When you withhold rent, don't simply spend the money on something else. Even if a judge decides that your landlord is at fault, a judge may decide that you still owe a reduced sum of money in back rent. You will need to pay this money within seven days after the case is decided; thus, it is best to have the money on hand. If you win your case, you cannot be evicted, and your landlord is legally obligated to improve your living conditions. It might be a hassle, but you do have legal means to insist that your landlord provide you with healthy living conditions before you can be expected to pay rent. By understanding eviction law, you can improve your living conditions.Share
22 June 2015
Hello. My name is Susan James. Thank you for stopping by my website. I’m not an attorney, but I've used attorneys for a variety of reasons. One thing I have found is that it definitely pays to use an attorney who specializes in the field in which you are seeking advice or assistance. My husband and I have employed the services of a real estate attorney quite a few times. When we got married, I moved into the home that my husband owned. I also sold my house. We used an attorney to help with the sale of my house and to add me to the deed of my husband’s home. While it isn't always a legal requirement to use an attorney for these things, it is in your best interest. I’m going to share about when and why it’s a good idea to use a real estate attorney.