When Can Tenant Use Repair and Deduct Rules?

In several states, tenants may be allowed to deduct money from rent to pressure landlords and property managers to make repairs. As a landlord or property manager, having a tenant deduct repairs from rent can be incredibly frustrating. First, when a tenant uses their repairman, the landlord or property manager can be potentially overpaying for the repair as the tenant may be less inclined to try to save money they would be spending on rent. In addition, if the landlord or property manager does not know the repairman or company then how are they to know the quality of work?

However, despite what some tenants may believe, they can only deduct repairs from rent if certain parameters are met. First, money for repairs can only be deducted from rent if the landlord has a responsibility to fix the issue. This legal responsibility either comes from repair duties spelled out in the lease or the needed repair is so severe it breaks the implied warranty of habitability. The implied warranty of habitability varies from state to state but usually, means the unit structurally sound, has hot and cold water and is heated and free of pests. If repairs do not meet either of the parameters then, the landlord does not have to fix the issue and therefore if the tenant does choose to fix the problem they cannot deduct the cost from the rent.

If the issue that needs repair is required to be fixed by a landlord, then a tenant must notify the landlord of the problem. If the tenant plans on trying to deduct the repair from their rent they generally should send a letter describing the problem, what needs to be done to repair it, a cost estimate and deadline for the landlord to respond. If tenants do not follow these guidelines, then they could be liable to pay full rent or face eviction.

It is important for landlords to track all relevant correspondence with tenants including requests for repairs, in their property management system. Disorganized landlords can fail to respond in a timely manner to repair requests which could cost them thousands in repairs as well as lost rent. Having property management software that allows you to save documents to each of your rental units will keep you organized and protected against these types of issues. In addition, photographing and recording the state of each of your rental unit in your building management software before and after tenants move in and inspecting each unit on a yearly basis can help you notice any repair issues before they get worse or prove that you have been maintaining your unit appropriately

This post is provided by RISSOFT Residential and Commercial Property Management Software, specializing in innovative and cutting-edge property management software for all 50 states. Request a demo or contact us today to receive more information.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.