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What is repair and deduct?

You're not sure what to do. Your rental house is unsafe. Repairs need to be made, and your landlord won't do it. Calls and letters are ignored. What now?

You may be able to use the repair and deduct tactic. This isn't right for every case, but it can be a way to force your landlord to act and to keep yourself safe, repairing the home before an injury occurs.

All you do is make the repairs without waiting for your landlord. Track all of the costs and keep written records so that you can prove it. Then deduct those costs from your next rent payment.

For instance, maybe you pay $2,000 per month for your home. You bring in a handyman to make the repairs, and he charges you $1,500. The next time rent is due, just pay $500 and provide your landlord with a list of costs.

There are a few things to remember about this. First and foremost, you can't repair anything this way. The issue has to make the house uninhabitable or be discussed in the lease. This creates a legal duty so that the landlord has to fix it. Minor issues don't count.

The other thing to remember is that you still need to ask the landlord to make the repairs first. Keep written logs of those requests. Repair and deduct can't be your first option.

When you have a negligent landlord and you're forced to live in an unsafe home or apartment, injuries are likely. If you're hurt before repairs are made, you need to know what legal options you have to get financial compensation for your medical bills.

Source: FindLaw, "How Does a Tenant Use Repair and Deduct?," accessed Sep. 19, 2017

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