Q: Can my tenants not pay rent if they are awaiting their washing machine to be fixed?
My tenant's washer broke in April. I immediately contacted my Home warranty program (AHS) and had a service technician come out. He said it would take 4 weeks for parts. He never contacted me back or returned my calls. I had to have a 2ns vendor come out and then they said it was a big job and did not have the man power so I had a 3rd vendor come out on 5/29 and he said he had to order parts. So all in all my tenants have had to go to the laundry mat for the past 9 weeks (about $25/week). The washer/dryer combo was New 7/2020 (so not even 3 years old yet). They asked for a rent reduction and I told them unfortunately No I was not going to reduce rent. They have not paid their rent yet for June and I believe after today there will be a late fee imposed as their rent is due on the 1st. Can they withhold rent until the washer is fixed? Should I be giving them a rent reduction until it is fixed?
They cannot unilaterally decide to withhold the rent. If they do so, then you can file a failure to pay rent (first give 10 day notice form).
It may be wise to offer them a rent reduction to smooth things over though.
A: They can't withhold full monthly rent for this type of breach of lease on your part, which it likely is, because the unit is not uninhabitable or made dangerous due to some unhealthy condition (in that scenario, they could petition to open a rent escrow and pay their rent into court and the court would hold a hearing on the issue and decide what damages to award out of the rent paid into escrow). That said, they rented a unit with a washing machine, and now they don't have one. You owe at least the cost of the laundromat expenses they are incurring, but obviously thir time and inconvenience is not being taken into account just paying their laundry costs. It's not their fault your home warranty company and repair contractors can't dilgently repair the machine. This is going on two months and that is unreasonable. At some point you may have to just bite the bullet and buy a new machine. Small appliance repair is not worth the time and pay for most repair companies, or what they have to charge will rival the cost of a new appliance. Most refuse to do these jobs due to the amount of money involved being not worth their time and effort.
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