How to withhold rent (step by step instructions).

Category: Tenant Rights & Laws Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2018 Published: Monday, 30 July 2018 Written by ATA Admin

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How to withhold rent (step by step instructions)


Withholding rent may be appropriate for you only if:
you cannot afford to pay for the repairs, and
your problems are so serious that your home is uninhabitable.


But be careful, because it is not often the most appropriate choice, and many courts do not look favorably on it. In addition, while you are withholding rent you should be looking for another place to live, because the landlord may then try to evict you.
Examples of what would not be appropriate problems for withholding rent are torn carpeting, leaky faucets, toilets that won’t stop running, cracked walls, or a small or minor amount of bugs or rodents. Examples of what might be appropriate are no hot water, no heat in the winter, dangerous conditions in the structure of your home, a seriously malfunctioning sewage system, or an extreme amount of rodent or other infestation.
The following are the steps you must take to legally withhold rent in Pennsylvania.
1. Send your landlord a written or typed letter explaining the problem. You should send this letter certified mail (return receipt) through the united states postal service. Do not skip this step– you must tell him or her in writing, even if you've already told him or her before about the problem. Be detailed about the problem– explain how seriously it affects your family’s home, life, health, safety, cleanliness, etc. If you can, also take pictures of the problem. Always keep copies of all your letters.
2. Next, give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to do the repairs.
3. If he or she doesn't fix the problems, you need to write to him or her again. Tell him or her that because he or she has not fixed your problems, your home is uninhabitable, and therefore, you intend to withhold your rent. Make sure you also send this follow up letter certified mail (return receipt) through the united states postal service.
4. Next, give your landlord some additional time to make the repairs.
5. If your landlord fails to make the repairs after the second letter was sent and additional time was given, you should withhold your rent in an escrow account at a bank. Do not spend this money.
6. Send your landlord a letter with proof of the escrow account. Also tell him or her that you will begin paying rent again after he or she fulfills his obligations as a landlord. This letter should also be sent certified mail (return receipt) through the united states postal service.
Remember you can only withhold rent if the problems are serious and you follow all the steps mentioned.

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