When Can You Withhold Rent Payments?
What steps can you take if your heat or plumbing needs to be repaired, you have told your landlord several times, and your landlord gives you nothing but delays and excuses – or simply refuses to make the repairs? You’ll need to speak with a .
What are a tenant’s rights? Is it legal in Tennessee to withhold your rent payments until your landlord makes necessary repairs? If you withhold your rent payments, can your landlord take legal action against you? When should you reach out to a ?
You will learn the answers to these questions – and you’ll also learn more about a tenant’s legal options and rights in Tennessee – if you will continue reading this brief discussion about what can happen when a landlord in this state will not make necessary repairs.
What Does the Law Require?
Tenants in the State of Tennessee are entitled by law to rental premises that are in good repair and meet fundamental health, safety, and structural standards. If your landlord unreasonably neglects or refuses to fix busted plumbing or a leaking roof, for example, your options include:
- withholding rent payments until the repairs are made
- paying for the repair (or doing it yourself) and deducting the amount from your rent
However, there are several restrictions on these rights, and there are several legal steps that a tenant will have to take in order to withhold rent payments legally or deduct the cost of a repair. Before you withhold rent, seek the advice of a Kingston landlord-tenant attorney regarding:
- exactly which repairs legally allow you to withhold or deduct rent
- the notice that you must give to the landlord before you may withhold or deduct rent
- how long a landlord has to make a repair before you may withhold or deduct rent
- how much of your rent you may withhold or deduct
- the possibility of landlord retaliation and your rights if retaliation happens
What Are a Landlord’s and Tenant’s Legal Responsibilities?
Landlords must comply with housing, building, health, and safety codes, maintain working heat, water, and electricity, and make repairs when necessary. Landlords also must inform their tenants of any lead paint hazards and provide printed information about lead paint contamination.
If a tenant chooses to withhold rent payments until necessary repairs are made, the tenant must also file a formal complaint with local officials and may be required to pay the rent to the county or to an escrow account.
Let a Kingston landlord-tenant lawyer offer you personalized advice on the laws that will apply in your particular situation. Your attorney will help you file a legal complaint, ensure that rent money is handled properly, and work to resolve the situation for you as quickly as possible.
What if You’re Injured Because a Landlord Was Negligent?
Landlords and other property owners in Tennessee are legally responsible for ensuring that their properties and premises are reasonably free of hazards for their tenants and others. If you’re injured because a landlord failed to make a necessary repair or disclosure, what are your rights?
In this state, if another person’s negligence directly causes your personal injury – whether that other party is an individual, a private business, or a government agency – you have the right to seek and recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and related damages.
A landlord may be liable for an injury caused, for example, by poor lighting, dilapidated stairs or balconies, a sidewalk’s or a parking area’s cracked pavement, a lack of sprinklers or fire alarms, or inadequate security. A premises liability lawyer can provide specific, personalized advice.
What Does the Law Try to Do?
Tennessee law tries to balance a landlord’s responsibility to prevent injuries with the obligation of tenants and visitors to be cautious and aware of their surroundings. The law presumes that a landlord can’t be responsible for every possible accident that might happen on a property.
Instead, landlords in this state are required to take “reasonable” measures to prevent injuries and accidents and to make all necessary disclosures and repairs.
In order for a tenant to prevail with an injury claim and recover compensation for an injury caused by a landlord’s negligent or intentional failure to make a needed repair, the tenant and the tenant’s premises liability lawyer must prove one of these claims:
- A “reasonable” landlord would have known about the hazard and would have repaired it.
- The landlord knew of the hazard and neglected or refused to repair it.
- The landlord had direct responsibility for the hazard that caused your injury.
How Do Landlords Defend Themselves Against Injury Claims?
If you’ve been injured because your landlord failed to make a necessary repair, and if you bring an injury claim, the landlord might insist that you caused your own injury. In a premises liability case, a landlord may offer one of these defenses:
- The tenant was not paying attention to his or her surroundings.
- The tenant had been warned of the hazard in advance.
- A reasonable person would have noticed and steered clear of what was plainly a hazard.
How Are Claims Against Landlords Settled?
Most injury claims against Tennessee landlords are settled out-of-court, but when a claim cannot be settled privately – and that’s unusual – a premises liability trial will determine if your landlord reasonably had enough time to repair the hazard that caused your accident and injury.
If you’re injured on your landlord’s premises – or someone else’s property in Tennessee – you must summon or seek medical attention immediately. After you’ve been examined and treated, schedule a consultation at once with a Kingston premises liability attorney.
What is the Deadline for Taking Action?
The Tennessee deadline for bringing an injury claim against a landlord is one year from the date of the injury, but if you’re injured because your landlord was negligent, don’t wait a year to speak with a lawyer.
Make the call immediately after you’ve been released by your medical provider. A landlord-tenant attorney will explain your legal options, protect your rights, and fight for the justice and compensation that an injury victim is entitled to and needs.
If your landlord neglects or refuses to make a needed repair, or if you are injured now or in the future because your landlord was negligent, promptly contact a Tennessee landlord-tenant attorney who will put the law to work for you.