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Christopher B, Esq
Christopher B, Esq, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 2677
Experience:  Litigation Attorney
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I live in Virginia. I have been trying to get the landlord

Customer Question

I live in Virginia. I have been trying to get the landlord to do repairs for over 6 weeks and he will not do them. The lease clearly states he is responsible for these repairs. Can I repair and deduct the cost from my rent in Virginia? If not what can I do?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 8 months ago.
My name is***** and I will be helping you with your question today. This is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney client relationship. Virginia does not have a statute that allows "repair and deduct"§ 55-248.13. Landlord to maintain fit premises.A. The landlord shall:1. Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;2. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;3. Keep all common areas shared by two or more dwelling units of the premises in a clean and structurally safe condition;4. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him; for a situation such as this.5. Maintain the premises in such a condition as to prevent the accumulation of moisture and the growth of mold, and to promptly respond to any notices from a tenant as provided in subdivision A 10 of § 55-248.16;6. Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences, in common areas, for the collection, storage, and removal of ashes,garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of two or more dwelling units and arrange for the removal of same; and7. Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable air conditioning if provided and heat in season except where the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat, air conditioning or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant or supplied by a direct public utility connection.B. The landlord shall perform the duties imposed by subsection A in accordance with law; however, the landlord shall only be liable for the tenant's actual damages proximately caused by the landlord's failure to exercise ordinary care.C. If the duty imposed by subdivision 1 of subsection A is greater than any duty imposed by any other subdivision of that subsection, the landlord's duty shall be determined by reference to subdivision 1.D. The landlord and tenant may agree in writing that the tenant perform the landlord's duties specified in subdivisions 3, 6 and 7 of subsection A and also specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations and remodeling, but only if the transaction is entered intoin good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord, and if the agreement does not diminish or affect the obligation of the landlord to other tenants in the premises. See link for Virginia residential landlord and tenant act: http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/HomelessnesstoHomeownership/PDFs/Landlord_Tenant_Handbook.pdf Virginia tenants are legally entitled to rental property that meets basic structural, health, and safety standards and is in good repair. If a landlord fails to take care of important maintenance, such as a leaky roof or a broken heater, you have several important legal rights, including the right to withhold rent until repairs are made. Before you can withhold rent, make sure that the circumstances justify you paying less rent and that you comply with state legal requirements on things like notice you must provide your landlord. You will not be able to withhold unless this is a repair that materially affects health and safety. § 55-248.21. Noncompliance by landlord.Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with any provision of this chapter, materially affecting health and safety, the tenant may serve a written notice on the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and stating that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice if such breach is not remedied in 21 days. If the landlord commits a breach which is not remediable, the tenant may serve a written notice on the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach, and stating that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less that 30 days after receipt of the notice. If the landlord has been served with a prior written notice which required the landlord to remedy a breach, and the landlord remedied such breach, where the landlord intentionally commits a subsequent breach of a like nature as the prior breach, the tenant may serve a written notice on the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting thesubsequent breach, make reference to the prior breach of a like nature, and state that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice. If the breach is remediable by repairs and the landlord adequately remedies the breachprior to the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement will not terminate. The tenant may not terminate for a condition caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his family or other person on the premises with his consent whether known by the tenant or not. In addition, the tenant may recover damages and obtain injunctive relief for noncompliance by the landlord with the provisions of the rental agreement or of this chapter. The tenant shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees unless the landlord proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the landlord's actions were reasonable under the circumstances. If the rental agreement is terminated due to the landlord's noncompliance, the landlord shall return the security deposit in accordance with § 55-248.15:1. Please let me know if you have any further questions and please positively rate my answer if satisfied. There should be smiley faces or numbers from 1-5 to choose from. This extra step will cost you nothing extra and will ensure that I will be compensated for my time by the site.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
After reading your response I have another question. So am I to understand that unless the repair issue is affecting my safety and health, the landlord does not have to comply even though the lease states he does? My issue is in reference to an appliance in my kitchen that has stopped working and the water from my kitchen sink. The lease gives a list of appliances that the landlord will repair and keep in working condition. The dishwasher is one of them. But he will not come out to replace or repair it. If not why? Since that was part of the rental agreement. The second issue is the water pressure from my kitchen sink. The pressure is sometimes so low I can barely get enough water out to fill up a glass. When this happens I can't even wash dishes since I can't get water from the sink and the dishwasher is not working. I end up having to take my dishes into the bathroom and wash them in the bath tub. This is unsanitary. Can anything be done about this?
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 8 months ago.
That is not exactly the case, if the issue is not material to your health and safety, you cannot terminate the lease but you could sue for damages in small claims court because the landlord has breached the lease. § 55-248.13. states, "The landlord shall: 4. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him; for a situation such as this.". You would be able to withhold rent in the amount that the condition to be cured is worth (sometimes this is a difficult number to ascertain). This amount could be somewhat significant because it deals with water pressure - showers, dishes, drinking, etc. Also the appliance is messed up. You could also terminate the lease if the issue is not fixed as this is material and related to your health. These remedies are dangerous as the landlord could bring suit against you are try to evict you if you withhold rent. You need to keep all your written notices and any correspondence with the landlord, also document and take pictures and even video. Remember that you need 21 days written notice before you can do these remedies.
Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 8 months ago.
Just checking back in, do you have any further questions?

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