Withholding or Deducting Rent for Repairs

Withholding or Deducting Rent for Repairs

Gregory Han
Jan 23, 2008

The apartment building we live in was constructed in 1917, and many of the original elements are starting to see the serious wear of those decades. Some of it is due to managerial negligence. Our largest living room window's frame cracked a couple days ago, with the original single pane glasee just about to slide out and onto the ground. Unfortunately the window has only been half of the problem. Getting our apartment owner to do anything about has been the real headache...

We've wedged a spare rod onto the bottom of the cracked window frame for now, alongside locking the window to the lower sliding frame. But it's a precarious situation at best. Calls to our landlord have gone unheeded (first very polite, now increasingly annoyed and to the point). I just gave him a call now, informing him this will be his last chance before we contact the Los Angeles Housing Department, where there is already an open case against his negligence. Basically he has two hours before I just move ahead and have another fine slapped onto his growing list.

In regards to having repairs made in a rental, it might be of interest to check this site. The California Department of Consumer Affairs outlines how to move forward in regards to rental repairs, the "repair and deduct" remedy, which allows you to subtract a partial or full amount of your rent for necessary repairs, or even withhold rent altogether.

The basic requirements and steps for using the repair and deduct remedy are as follows:

1. The defects must be serious and directly related to the tenant's health and safety.144
2. The repairs cannot cost more than one month's rent.
3. The tenant cannot use the repair and deduct remedy more than twice in any 12-month period.
4. The tenant or the tenant's family, guests, or pets must not have caused the defects that require repair.
5. The tenant must inform the landlord, either orally or in writing, of the repairs that are needed.
6. The tenant must give the landlord a reasonable period of time to make the needed repairs.

What is a reasonable period of time? This depends on the defects and the types of repairs that are needed. The law usually considers 30 days to be reasonable, but a shorter period may be considered reasonable, depending on the situation. For example, if the furnace is broken and it's very cold outdoors, two days may be considered reasonable (assuming that a qualified repair person is available within that time period).

So at this point, I don't even care whether he calls back, as long as the gerry rigged solution holds up. Because even when repairs are made, they've been made very shoddily. I'd rather use my monthly due amount for a window not made of clear plastic (yes, one of our windows is made of plastic, somehow permitted by law).

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