Does my landlord have to make repairs?
As a tenant, you have a right to a safe and habitable rental property. This right is called the Implied Warranty of Habitability and is implied in every lease agreement. You can withhold rent if the landlord does not make repairs that are necessary to keep your rental property safe and habitable.
How do I legally withhold rent?
You must have written proof that you told your landlord about the repair issues and gave your landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs.
- Send a repair request letter to landlord (download sample). Keep a copy.
You can withhold your rent, if the landlord does not make necessary repairs within a reasonable amount of time to keep your rental property safe and habitable.
- Send rent withholding letter to landlord (download sample). Keep a copy.
- Escrow your rent. Put your rent in a bank account or money order.
To back up your claim that the rental property is not safe or habitable, it can be helpful to call 311 and request an inspection from the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses & Inspections.
How much of the rent can I withhold?
There is no precise formula about how much rent you are allowed to withhold under the Implied Warranty of Habitability. Courts will consider factors like how bad the repair issues are and how much of the rental property was not habitable. It is common for courts to decide that some rent is due, even if the landlord did not make repairs in a reasonable amount of time.
Can I use the rent in escrow to move?
It is recommended that you do not use your rent in escrow for any reason. If your landlord files an eviction lawsuit against you, you want to be able to show the court that the reason you did not pay rent was due to repair issues, not because you did not have the money available.
For more information on how to address repair issues, click here.