When a landlord has failed to meet obligations under the law, and particularly when the landlord fails to make important needed repairs, the tenant gets less from the rental agreement than s/he is paying rent to get. The law has created a remedy to correct this situation, and it is called "abatement of rent."
To use the remedy of abatement, the tenant must be very careful. The tenant must give the landlord a written notice of the conditions that need to be corrected. These conditions must involve the landlord's basic duties to maintain the property and to keep the property up to the standards of the local building and housing codes. The notice does not need to say what the tenant will do if the repairs are not made, but it would be wise to state that the tenant intends to abate rent if the repairs are not done. If the tenant plans to move out if repairs are not made, the tenant should give notice of termination as set forth in the previous section of this guide, because a tenant may not both terminate the rental agreement and use the abatement remedy at the same time.
Once the notice has been given to the landlord, and s/he does not make the repairs within 7 days, the tenant may abate rent. While the law does not say how long the landlord has to make repairs after the tenant gives notice, it is wise to give the landlord seven days (just like in the termination situation outlined in the previous section of this guide). If the landlord has not made a reasonable effort to correct the problem within seven days, the tenant may abate rent starting from the date of the notice the tenant gave about the repair.
The issue you have is that you have not abated the rent and are now attempting to abate the rent, once you have vacated the property. Although there is nothing preventing you from doing this, whether you will actually be able to claim this now, is another matter entirely.
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If you wish to discuss, please feel free to ask further questions.
I am not looking to abate the rent in so much as i want to ask for that money back, but to suggest to the landlord/letting agent that instead of a deduction from my deposit - they consider that i did not ask for rent abatement, and therefore paid full cost for a property that was in severe need of repair for 4 full years - essentially i want to 'call it quits' with no further exchange of money on the basis that i 'should' have had rent abatement over this excessively long period.
Would it be reasonable/fair/legal to suggest this to them?
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