Sunday, February 4, 2007

Why self-help is rarely a good idea

Tenant withholds rent to get the landlord's attention about a problem with the leased property. What can the landlord do?

Well, the landlord can evict the tenant. Which is probably what the landlord will do to the tenant with the landlord disregarding the tenant's outrage. Then the landlord will ask the court for the withheld rent as damages (damages being money that should be paid by the tenant/defendant to the landlord/plaintiff).

So much for self-help.

Of course, I am going to suggest getting an attorney. An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, an attorney can tell you if you are being an utter fool or if you have a good grievance against the landlord.

See, there is a situation called constructive eviction. The landlord did something (or did not do something the law required the landlord to do) which had the effect of making the property uninhabitable. Think about not fixing a furnace during sub-zero winter weather. Some cities passed local ordinances giving more protection to tenants. Also, your lease might provide its own protections.

An attorney can give you a better idea of what your rights are and what remedies are available to you.