My significant other and myself want to withhold rent due to inadequate and slow (approximately six months) maintenance repairs on a drafty patio door (which was a pre-exsisting condition before we moved in back in December, 2011). We plan on withholding rent in an escrow account. At the same time, due to other reasons, we may want to pursue the option of terminating the lease early. One question we have is how can we define terms to release the money if the time and extent of the repair keeps changing (they told us that the door would need to be replaced first in late Spring, then Summer, and now August. Now they're stating that weatherstripping may be sufficient and that whatever solution they provide will be done in August, but they are unsure of what the repair will involve).How can we define the terms of releasing the payment when they don't know what is going to be done or when? Who defines what constitutes adequate repairs? What happens to the money in the escrow account if the repairs are not completed before we move out?
We have an itemized documentation noting maintenance repairs and interactions with the office starting back in January, 2012. We've asked several times to the office when the maintenance would be done, with changing stories. We have emails, phone calls, person-to-person conversations that contradict the last time we asked about the requests, and the office fails to provide anything in writing when we ask them to.
Thank you for your question.What state are you located in? Also, the defect that you mentioned, does it directly affect your use and enjoyment of the premises?
I live in Midland, MI, and yes, it affects our enjoyment of the premises very much! There's a draft coming in through the patio door that makes the temperature in the living area either hotter or colder, depending on the weather outside. When we moved in during the winter, we had to set the thermostat to about 90 degrees for the living area (where we spend most of our time) to be comfortable. We eventually taped up some Styrofoam along the frame of the door in the winter time, and this improved the temperature control of the apartment drastically (the 90 degrees setting actually made the apartment feel like it was 90 degrees). This solution, however, did not allow us to operate the door and to access our patio. Now, in the summer, we are just using the AC without the Styrofoam since we want to access the patio regularly. We recently installed our own weatherstripping, which we have communicated to the management staff as being a "temporary solution" since the weatherstripping that we put in does not like to stay in place when we open and close the door repeatedly. This is because the door is not sitting straight in the frame, and we have communicated this also several times to the management.
Thank you for your follow-up, Gordon. I will do my best to assist you with your concerns. If you would like me to clarify my answer, I will be happy to do so.
Kindly remember to only rate my answer when you are fully satisfied. If you feel the need to rate my service as either "Bad" or "Poor”, please stop and reply to me via the CONTINUE CONVERSATION button with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I was able to explain your concern to your satisfaction.
Please be aware that if you give any rating below 3 stars then I will not be compensated in any way for helping you today. Good luck to you!
I was planning putting the rent money into an escrow account, which I previously stated, and the money would be released to the office when the repairs are done. I'm reading a website (http://www.michigandaily.com/content/know-your-rights-about) about how I do have the legal right to withhold rent if the office doesn't repair the unit. That is unless if there's something you know that we don't since the research we've done states that we're in our legal right to withhold rent.
Thank you for your follow-up, Gordon.My apologies but that is simply untrue and incorrect. No state advocates the right to withhold since that automatically creates an argument for the landlord that you are defaulting on your obligations to pay rents. Withholding rents is the riskiest option because if the judge does not agree that you had legitimate cause to withhold, you would end up owing the rents to the landlord, and he may still have grounds to evict. That is why sending a letter first, and then taking him to court over failed repairs is safer simply because you do not run the risk of a judge ruling against you. Of course it is your choice as to what you wish to do. I am not your attorney and I cannot advise you. However withholding rents is ultimately a very risky endeavor that may end up costing you.Good luck.Dimitry Esquire41105.1313357639
JA Mentor, multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation & admin
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).