How To Withhold Rent

If you want to withhold rent from your landlord, you are probably at the end of your rope.  Withholding rent is a serious matter and you can suffer serious consequences if you don’t take the proper precautions so that it’s done right.

Legally, you are required to pay your landlord rent.  If you do not, you are breaking your lease and your landlord has the right to throw you out of your residence or evict you.  The only way that you can legally withhold rent from your landlord is if he’s breaking his lease with you.  A landlord can do this in many ways.

The first most obvious way is if he’s broken the lease.  If there is something going on that is making you angry, (like a leaky faucet or a rodent situation) see if it’s on the lease that the landlord has agreed to take care of the situation.  If it is, then you have the right to withhold rent.  Take pictures of the situation or create some form of tangible time-stamped/dated/notarized evidence, and throw in a credible witness or two for good measure.  Then withhold rent until you get the matter attended to.  If you have to go to court, you will have legal proof and the signed lease by your landlord.

If the issue you are upset about is not covered in your lease, you have to consult a lawyer.  Get your proof together and visit a lawyer for a consultation.

Describe the situation and determine what rights you have under state law.  There are some state laws that can override your lease in a landlord/tenant situation.  If you have no state legal grounds, then withholding rent in this situation is illegal.  You can lose your home.

At this point you should have the lawyer write letters on your behalf to the landlord.  Just because your issue is not listed in your lease or covered by state law doesn’t mean that a judge or jury won’t feel that you have a right to have your issues addressed or settlement made.  But it does not mean that you can’t legally withhold rent.  If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t legally withhold rent, then you might have a good court case.  The letters might be enough to convince the landlord, but if not you might have to go to court.

If your current lawyer and at least two other lawyers you consult feel like you don’t have a good court case, then you should probably just drop the matter and deal with the issue yourself.  It is obviously not the landlord’s responsibility.


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