My landlord (an institutional landlord) and their property-management agent is taking a really long time to deal with a maintenance issue (broken pump). Can I withhold rent until it’s dealt with? How long is a reasonable wait for maintenance issues?
This is a very good question and covers a number of elements of the landlord-and-tenant relationship. However, the short answer is you cannot withhold rent unless it is in extreme circumstances and from your enquiry it doesn’t appear to have reached that threshold yet.
First of all, and most importantly, your landlord is legally required and obliged to maintain the property at the minimum standards for rented dwellings as per the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019. These regulations came into operation on May 1st 2019. This obligation continues during your tenancy under Section 12, Part 2, Chapter 1 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and on top of that they need to address any maintenance issues that arise during your tenancy in a timely fashion.
On the other side of that, as tenant you need to notify the landlord of any maintenance issues as they arise during your tenancy which you have done. This is what I would advise you to do if I were in your shoes. First of all, since you have stated that your landlord is an institutional landlord it is more than likely that they own a number of properties within their portfolio. Therefore, I would suggest it is a fair assumption they have a team of maintenance contractors to address issues in their properties as they arise.
So, it is disappointing they have not addressed your problem already. Not only that you mention that the pump has stopped working so that would tell me that it is affecting your water supply or potentially your heating or both so it is a serious issue as opposed to a minor problem. That means you now have no choice but to write to your landlord formally to inform them that you require them to fix the pump without any further delay otherwise you will need to seriously consider referring the matter to the RTB for breach of landlords’ obligations to maintain the property.
The RTB website should have a template guide for this type of letter to help you compose it correctly. In this communication I would also state that you would rather not go to the RTB but if they don’t act quickly, you will have no other option. This should help to get your landlord’s attention.
That said, and to reiterate the advice that I have given in the many articles I have written in the past, the best landlord-and-tenant relationships are where there is open, honest, and transparent communication with the RTB being the very last resort for either party. The reason for this is that may well end up in a protracted dispute-resolution process that is stressful for both parties and which really doesn’t benefit either party in most cases. It also serves to worsen what is an already overwhelmed RTB dispute-resolution process.
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