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Re: Can you withhold rent if roaches exist for multiple months?
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We had a similar situation once. The landlord started renovating the basement apartment below us, and caused all the mice to move upstairs to our apartment. He put some traps and caught some mice, but there were dozens. They poisoned some, which then died in the walls and made the house stink.

Eventually, he said he couldn't do much more so we said, "ok, you can't fix it, so we're getting a cat to catch the mice" His reply was "the lease says no pets. period." And we said, yeah, but the place is now overrun with mice that you can't control. He said, if you get a cat, you have to leave....

So, we did left. He wasn't a bad guy, he tried, but couldn't control it. We were good tenants so we got all of our security deposit back even though we broke the lease.

Posted on: 2013/9/26 18:25
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Re: Can you withhold rent if roaches exist for multiple months?
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Thanks for the responses guys. The tenant has contacted the landlord several times by e-mail and text. The landlord is taking care of the exterminations but has been unsuccessful. The tenant feels the landlord is trying to resolve the problem but the problem still remains - which means the place is not reasonably habitable.

It's for this reason she's wondering if she's legally able to withhold rent (she'd be paying for a service in which she's not able to use). Thanks again.

Posted on: 2013/9/26 18:11
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Re: Can you withhold rent if roaches exist for multiple months?
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I had a similar problem - persistent bugs and a landlord who made half-hearted efforts to address them. I bombarded the landlord with pictures, emails, registered letters. I threatened to call the department of health and every other city agency I could think of. Basically, I made it my full-time job for two months, and finally the landlord agreed to let me out of the lease and return my deposit just to be rid of me. It sucked - I'm not confrontational by nature - but my quality of life increased 100%.

Posted on: 2013/9/26 13:32
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Re: Can you withhold rent if roaches exist for multiple months?
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To assist in documenting the problem, you can have the Resident Response Center report the violation to the Housing Code or Health Inspector.

You can also call the JC Tenant and Landlord for advice on your rights. Just a note that the agency can only advise and not mediate.

Good Luck!

Posted on: 2013/9/26 0:19
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Re: Can you withhold rent if roaches exist for multiple months?
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Hi WhoElse,

Did your friend create a paper trail of communication with her landlord that outlines her habitability claim? She would have needed to notify the landlord (judges normally want to see written communication - easiest to prove) of the roach problem; the fact that your friend was paying for extermination with receipts (did the landlord refuse this?); the "last straw" letter - (I cannot live here anymore because of the roaches); and the clear communication she was breaking her lease because of the roach problem.

If she can prove that she repeatedly asked her landlord to solve the problem and the landlord refused, she may be able to win in court AND get her security back.

If she just threw up her hands and left the landlord in the lurch without communication, she's not going to win, unfortunately.

The landlord needs to be notified and needs to be given a chance to rectify the problem before the tenant self-terminates the lease.

I wouldn't give up on the security issue if the communication/paper trail was established. PM me and I can give you a bit more guidance as I've been in your friend's shoes, went to court, and prevailed.


Posted on: 2013/9/25 23:24
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Re: Can you withhold rent if roaches exist for multiple months?
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Quote:

WhoElseCouldIBe wrote:
Hi all,

My friend moved into a new place in February and has had a significant roach problem (you see many crawling out in the open several times a day) since the summer. She keeps her apartment clean and has had the apartment exterminated several times.

To her, this is a quality of life issue that affects her ability to cook and sleep peacefully and she moved in with a friend last month.

Now, she has 4 months left on her lease. Does she have any recourse to withhold rent given that the apartment hasn't been habitable for several months? She figures if she is going to lose her security deposit (1.5 months) she might as well stop paying now. But of course, she doesn't want to get sued if she doesn't have a case, either.

Thanks in advance!


If the point is she wants to save the money rather than get the landlord to hire an exterminator, she's going to lose in eviction court. She should be very careful to put the money in escrow if she wishes to do the latter and not end up with an eviction record.

Posted on: 2013/9/25 22:27
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Can you withhold rent if roaches exist for multiple months?
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Hi all,

My friend moved into a new place in February and has had a significant roach problem (you see many crawling out in the open several times a day) since the summer. She keeps her apartment clean and has had the apartment exterminated several times.

To her, this is a quality of life issue that affects her ability to cook and sleep peacefully and she moved in with a friend last month.

Now, she has 4 months left on her lease. Does she have any recourse to withhold rent given that the apartment hasn't been habitable for several months? She figures if she is going to lose her security deposit (1.5 months) she might as well stop paying now. But of course, she doesn't want to get sued if she doesn't have a case, either.

Thanks in advance!

Posted on: 2013/9/25 22:12
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