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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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I rent a commercial property in a Strip mall in Chatham, NJ.

Customer Question

I rent a commercial property in a Strip mall in Chatham, NJ. Last year it was discovered that the roof leaked only with snow. The owners had the roofers come out AFTER all the snow melted, as they said they could not do anything until then and after some leaking situations and some damaged property which I did not make them pay for, they claimed the roof was fixed. We just had a big snow storm and the same area as well as new areas are leaking again! I called the property manager (different from the owner) and he told me "roofs leak"??? I said I do not pay rent for a roof to leak. He said things happen and new problems arise. I explained that NO, this is the same area along with new areas. He said he would tell the owners and they would probably have the roofer come out. However, I am sure they will tell me the same thing which is they cannot do anything until the snow is gone..and we got 2 feet up there! As it melts, the leak will get worse. My question is, since this is something that they knew about, can I hold my $6,000 a month rent payment in escrow until they fix the problem? And this may sound stupid but, should I have to deal with a leaky roof like the property manager said??? It makes no sense? Thank You!!!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sorry to learn of this situation. While you cannot use rent withholding (doing so will result in a "notice to pay or quit" followed by an unlawful detainer (eviction) if you refuse), you can sue the landlord for breach of contract (the lease agreement) for failure to maintain the property.

You can use small claims court, where your damages will be the actual value of any lost property, or loss of use of the property, or lost business (any costs associated with the leaks). Both Property Damage and Breach of Contract carry a 6 year statute of limitations, so you can pursue damages for the first leak as well as the current one.

For help with a small claims suit see:

You may see that your landlord is more willing to work with you once a lawsuit is filed.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much!!!!! Very helpful!!!!!!
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

You are welcome, and I do wish you the best with this matter.

Thank you for using our forum, and please do not forget to rate my service so that I can receive credit for assisting you.

If you would like to direct future questions to me specifically, you can do so by starting your new question with "For William B. Esq." and a moderator will notify me.

Thank you again, and again I wish you the best.


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