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Withholding rent in Tennessee when repairs go unfixed

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Real Estate

Leasing a rental property for your business comes with a sense of ease, but it also relies on a strong landlord-tenant relationship. When a need for repairs arise, a prompt response from your landlord is key to maintaining a safe and habitable living space.

But what happens when those repairs go unaddressed? In Tennessee, tenants have rights when it comes to repairs, and while withholding rent might seem like a solution, it’s not always the best course of action.

Repairs and habitability

The Volunteer State law dictates that landlords must provide tenants with a habitable property. This means the property must meet basic health and safety standards. Repairs that fall under this umbrella include issues with essential utilities like heating, plumbing and electrical systems. Furthermore, the rental property ought to be free from infestations, structural problems and other hazards.

If you’re facing neglected repairs that impact the habitability of your rental, you have options. First, you can make the repairs and subtract the repair expenses from your rent. However, there are crucial steps to follow.

First, provide written documentation to your landlord detailing the repairs needed. If they fail to respond within a reasonable timeframe (typically 14 days), obtain repair estimates from licensed contractors. Once you have completed the repairs with proper documentation, deduct the reasonable cost from your next rent payment.

You also have the option of placing your rent payments into a neutral account held by a trusted third party. You can then request the court to channel your rent to your landlord once the repairs are completed. This method can help ensure you meet your rental obligation while pressuring your landlord to address the issues.

Remember, in any situation involving repairs and withheld rent, keeping meticulous records is essential. You should not lose any copies of the written engagements with your landlord regarding your repair concerns. It’s also crucial to preserve dated receipts for any repair costs you incur. Also, don’t forget to capture photos or videos documenting the unaddressed repairs. Thorough documentation can strengthen your position if legal action becomes necessary.

While facing neglected repairs in your Tennessee rental can be frustrating, please communicate your concerns to your landlord. Clearly document the issues and attempt to work with your landlord to find a resolution. If those efforts fail, consulting with a trusted legal team can provide valuable guidance specific to your situation.