Does a tenant have the legal right to withhold rent for house repairs? 8 Answers as of October 10, 2011

We have a renter that will not pay the rent until a door is replaced in the house. It has been a two months' process to get a carpenter out to fix it, and it will be done within the week. Does a renter have the legal right to withhold rent, and if so, for what reasons(s). He has lived in the house for 4 months and has been late paying the rent for 3 of the 4 months. The lease states he will pay before the 1st of every month or no later than the 1st of each month.

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Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
If the damage limits the habitability of the premises, then a renter can "abate" the rent or "repair and deduct." At the very least, the unpaid rent should be placed in escrow until the issue of what % of the value of the rental that he was denied is determined.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 10/10/2011
Law Office of Jared Altman
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
You should have a provision in your lease for late fees if he's late. As for withholding rent, if essential services are denied then the tenant can withhold rent. If a repair is required the tenant can make the repair and deduct it from the rent.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/8/2011
AyerHoffman, LLP
AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
A tenant may withhold rent in certain situations where the habitability of the premises is impaired by a defective or dangerous condition. The tenant must first notify you of the condition, give you a reasonable opportunity to make the repair, and make it clear rent will be withheld pending the repair. Withheld rent is due immediately upon successful repair and should have been kept by the tenant in an interest bearing account. If this is a problem with an outside door and reduces the security of the property, two months is not likely to be held to be a reasonable delay on your part. On the other hand, if the tenant is habitually late, you may have a tenant who knows the system and is using the defect simply to avoid payment.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 10/7/2011
AyerHoffman, LLP
AyerHoffman, LLP | Cara Lee Thompson
A tenant can withhold rent on the basis that repairs need to be made. However, prior to doing so, the tenant should have notified you in writing that the repairs need to be made, and that he/she was withholding rent until those repairs have been made. The basis for the rent withholding is that there has been a violation of the warranty of habitability, interference with quiet enjoyment of the property, or other potential potential others.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 10/7/2011
Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
They can withhold one during the rental period and then only for things like heat, water, mold or other items that make the premises untenantable. They have to give reasonable notice of their intent to do so.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/7/2011
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