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MDLawyer, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 6135
Experience:  10 years in legal practice. Over 5 years in advising clients on landlord/tenant issues, including on a pro bono basis.
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In Febuary 2015 the compressor in the refrigerator located

Customer Question

In Febuary 2015 the compressor in the refrigerator located in my apartment and belonged to the landlord broke down . This caused me to lose several items in the refrigerator section and all of the meats and products in the freezer. It cost me $200.00 dollars to replace what I had lost. I notified the landlord of the situation and how much money it cost me to replace my food. Since it was the property managements property that malfunctioned I told them I felt it was only right to reimburse me the money for my loss.At first they hymened and hawed about the situation . I waited patioinly for the results of what they were going to do. Finally I felt I had waited long enough and told them I was going to deduct the $200 out of the Marches rent, which I did. I never heard any complaint from them nor did they make any attempt to take me to court or evict me.
Yesterday on 9-09-2015 there was an envelope on the counter outside my apartment that said I owed $200 in rent and that they would evict me. My husband and I have never been late in paying our rent since we moved in here which was 10-01-2014. What are my rights and what should I do.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  MDLawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for using the Just Answer website. I look forward to assisting you.

Unfortunately, unless the cause of the compressor breaking was due to negligence on the landlord's part, they would not be legally responsible for the break down of the refrigerator and they would not be responsible for the loss of your food. This is a very common situation.

With respect to deducting the money from the rent, the law is clear that you cannot do that. The only time that a tenant can deduct from the rent is for repairs not done and the specific reasons when that is allowed vary by state. Generally, in most states, the repair or deduct laws require written communications between the tenant and the landlord, clear proof that the landlord refused to repair, and proof that the landlord has a legal duty to repair.

If this was a situation where the landlord did not repair the refrigerator and refused to, that would be a different scenario. However, if the refrigerator was repaired, you cannot deduct from rent for food lost. The law simply does not allow that, regrettably, and so if you did not pay your full rent, the law does allow the landlord to evict if not paid by the tenant.

Please let me know if this has answered your question.

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