Monday, April 27, 2009

Landlord tenant dispute, maintenance of property and repairs

landlord tenant rights eviction law formsA tenant can undertake necessary repairs on his own and deduct the amount from rent payable under certain circumstances
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Acommon dispute between landlords and tenants is the question of maintenance of rented premises. Usually, a lot depends on the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties and laid down in the lease agreement. The various Rent Control Acts of the States also provide some guidance to this effect.
As per these Acts, a landlord has a duty to keep the premises in good repair. Every landlord is bound to keep the premises in good and tenantable condition. If a landlord neglects or fails to make any repairs which he is bound to make, within a reasonable amount of time, after notice in writing, the tenant may undertake the repairs himself and deduct the expenses from the rent. This is subject to the condition that the amount so deducted in any year does not exceed onetwelfth of the rent payable by the tenant for that year.

It is the responsibility of a landlord to ensure that the tenanted place is habitable and safe. If need be, he should undertake adequate repairs to ensure these conditions.

In case the landlord is unable to do so or is unwilling to do so, the tenant may undertake these repairs. He needs to give proper notice to the landlord about this, specifically mentioning the nature of problems, the nature of inconvenience caused, the nature of safety hazards, and the necessary steps required to correct the problem. Moreover, it should be mentioned that in case the landlord fails to undertake the repairs within the specified time, the tenant will have the work done and will be eligible to recover the amount spent from the landlord. However, it should be noted that this would cover only repairs which are essential and urgent. It would not cover circumstances where the tenant wants some alterations or additions for his convenience. The essential test is whether the requirement is for keeping the premises safe, habitable, and usable.
In case where any repairs are to be undertaken, without which the property is not habitable or usable, except with undue inconvenience, and the landlord neglects or fails to make them after notice in writing, the tenant may apply to the Controller under the Rent Act for permission to make such repairs himself. He should submit to the Controller an estimate of the cost of repairs.
The Controller may give the landlord an opportunity of being heard. After considering the estimate of costs and making inquires as he may consider necessary, the Controller may by an order in writing, permit the tenant to undertake repairs. It will then be lawful for the tenant to undertake the repairs himself and deduct the cost. The amount recovered from the landlord should not exceed the amount specified by the Controller. The amount deducted or recoverable in any year should not exceed half of the rent payable by the tenant for that year. If any repairs not covered by the specified amount are necessary in the opinion of the Controller, and the tenant agrees to bear the excess cost himself, the Controller may permit the tenant to undertake the repairs. The landlord would not be liable to pay for unnecessary or unwarranted repairs.

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