When you moved into your new apartment in Atlanta, it was bright, clean, and all appliances were in good working order. Over time, however, you soon realized that your landlord was not too concerned about upkeep. It took him weeks to repair the leaking kitchen faucet and now the lock on the door to your unit won’t work properly. The implied warranty of habitability means it is your right to have a structurally sound home – so this would be unacceptable.
What is the Implied Warranty of Habitability?
Every apartment or rental home in the state comes with an implied warranty of habitability. In general, this means that it must be structurally sound, have working heat and hot and cold running water, and be free of pests. When any of this is lacking and your landlord doesn’t do anything about it, what are your options? Can you withhold rent? Pay for the repair yourself and deduct the amount from the rent?
Georgia currently does not have statutes on tenant remedies such as repair and deduct or withholding rent. In any case, it is definitely not a good idea to refuse to pay rent because your landlord is not making repairs. Although you may feel justified in doing so, your landlord could consider your action a breach of the rental agreement and seek to evict you.
Repair and Deduct Explained
Repair and deduct is a right that has been recognized by Georgia courts. They have held that when a landlord has a legal duty to make a repair and doesn’t do so, a tenant may hire a competent professional to carry out the work and deduct the reasonable cost from the rent.
Before taking this step, you must have notified your landlord in writing that repairs were needed. (Keep a copy of this notice to confirm that they were made aware of the problem.) If they do not respond, the next step is to provide written notice that you intend to use the repair and deduct remedy.
In many cases, this should get your landlord’s attention. If it doesn’t, collect estimates from several qualified professionals before hiring one. After the repair is complete, keep copies of the receipt, which should also include an overview of the work that was done. When the first of the month arrives, subtract the costs from the rent and remit the balance due, along with copies of the repair receipts.
Consult a Georgia Tenants’ Rights Attorney
There is always a possibility that your landlord will object to the repair, claiming that the cost was unreasonable or the repair wasn’t even necessary. They may also retaliate by making your tenancy so difficult that you are constructively evicted.
If this happens, contact the Georgia tenants’ rights team at Atlanta Family & Immigration Law. We protect the rights of tenants in and around Atlanta when landlord hostility or neglect interferes with their ability to live in their home and will give you advice and representation that you can trust. To schedule a consultation with Attorney Judith Delus, call 678.601.5580 or contact us.