Can I refude to pay rent until the landlord fixes the sewer problem?

Full Question:

I just started renting a home that apparently has a sewer problem. I have resided in the home for 2 months and have repeatedly asked the landlord to have a plumber come out and inspect the sewer smell that radiates through the house and is particularly bad in the bathroom. The smell will take your breath away in the morning. They had a plumber come out and he said they would have to replace the floor in the bathroom. Well nothing has been done. The landlord came by and said the floor was fine, so I asked him to have a plumber come out and see if there was a leak. Well the rent is due again and there is still a smell in my home. It has gotten so bad my children can not sleep in their rooms because of the smell. Can I refuse to pay the rent until this matter is resolved or do I need to call another plumber and deducted it from the rent?
04/30/2007   |   Category: Landlord Tenant   |   State: Alabama   |   #3450


First, check and see if this matter is specifically covered in your lease agreement. If it is not, then Alabama’s Landlord and Tenant Act will govern. It provides that a landlord shall (1) make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a habitable condition; (2) keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition; (3) maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord; (4) provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal; and (5) supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.

If the landlord fails to comply with the rental agreement or any of his responsibilities, and the reasonable cost of compliance is less than an amount equal to one-half of one-month’s rent, the tenant may recover damages for the breach or may notify the landlord of his intention to correct the condition at the landlord’s expense. If the landlord does not comply within seven days after being notified in writing or as promptly as conditions require in the case of an emergency, the tenant may cause the work to be done and after submitting an itemized receipt or bill, deduct from the next due rent the actual and reasonable cost not including the tenant’s own labor. Tenants may not repair and deduct for a condition caused by themselves, their family or someone on the premises with their consent.

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