The “repair and deduct” remedy
The “repair and deduct” remedy allows a tenant to deduct money from the rent, up to the amount of one month’s rent, to pay for repair of defects in the rental unit.156 This remedy covers substandard conditions that affect the tenant’s health and safety, and that substantially breach the implied warranty of habitability.157 (See discussion of the implied warranty of habitability.) Examples might include a leak in the roof during the rainy season, no hot running water, or a gas leak.
As a practical matter, the repair and deduct remedy allows a tenant to make needed repairs of serious conditions without filing a lawsuit against the landlord. Because this remedy involves legal technicalities, it’s a good idea for the tenant to talk to a lawyer, legal aid organization, or tenants’ association before proceeding.
The basic requirements and steps for using the repair and deduct remedy are as follows:
- 1. The defects must be serious and directly related to the tenant’s health and safety.158
- 2. The repairs cannot cost more than one month’s rent.
- 3. The tenant cannot use the repair and deduct remedy more than twice in any 12-month period.
- 4. The tenant or the tenant’s family, guests, or pets must not have caused the defects that require repair.
- 5. The tenant must inform the landlord, either orally or in writing, of the repairs that are needed. (See “Giving the landlord notice“.)
- 6. The tenant must give the landlord a reasonable period of time to make the needed repairs.
source: California Department of Consumer Affairs
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