Understanding the Right to “Repair and Deduct”

As a landlord, it is your job to ensure that your property and individual apartments are safe to live in and up to code. However, sometimes essential components such as heat or electricity break no matter what you’ve done. It’s your responsibility to repair those items, but sometimes the tenant may take it upon themselves to do so. Known as the right to “repair and deduct,” this rule is found in Michigan state law as well as many other state laws across the country.

What is “repair and deduct”?

mechanic repairing gas boiler with a wrench

When something breaks inside an apartment, it is typically the responsibility of the landlord to fix it once notified. Some items can wait, such as a loose knob or a jammed window. Other items, though, such as the heat or electricity, are necessities and must be fixed as soon as possible.

If a landlord does not fix these necessities, the tenant has a right to withhold rent until the repairs are made. They also have the right to hire a repairperson themselves and deduct the cost from their rent.

In what cases can a tenant use “repair and deduct”?

As previously stated, a tenant can use the “repair and deduct” rule only under certain circumstances. They are as follows:

  • The item that is broken or defective causes habitability problems and makes it unsafe to reside in the apartment (see Michigan’s Implied Warranty of Habitability).
  • The tenant has informed the landlord of the repairs needed and the landlord has either refused to make the repairs or has waited too long. Generally speaking, repairs should be started within 24-72 hours for emergency repairs, 7 days for major repairs, and 31 days for minor repairs.

Landlords should keep their properties clean, safe, and comfortable for their tenants. They should also be aware of the laws in place. Aaron Cox Law are the premiere real estate attorneys in Oakland County. Contact us today at 734-287-3664 to learn about your legal rights.

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