If you are a tenant you have limited rights to make repairs
and deduct it from your rent. Under a recent Missouri law you may do this. However, your
right to make repairs is limited and you must follow certain procedures. If you do, you
may have work completed and deduct the cost from your rent.
You must make sure that you comply with the following
The problems with the rental property must affect
"habitability, sanitation or security" of the premises and be a violation of a
local municipal housing or building code. These are generally serious problems. To
determine if the problem satisfies this requirement, you should contact your city
department that is in charge of housing or building codes.
The cost of making the repair must be less than $300, or
one-half of your monthly rent, whichever is greater. However, the total cost may not
exceed one month's rent.
You must have resided in the rental property for at least six
months and paid all rent and charges during that time period to be eligible to make
repairs. If you received a notice of a lease or rule violation by the landlord, which was
not directed, you cannot make repairs.
If you, a member of your family, or someone present with your
permission, caused the damage either deliberately or negligently, you may not use this law
to make repairs.
You must first inform the landlord of the problems. This
should be done in writing. The landlord must correct the problem within 14 days. If, after
14 days, the landlord has not responded, you may have the repairs done.
You must keep all receipts and itemized statements for the
repairs. These must be provided to the landlord. You may then deduct the amount from the
rent, as verified by the receipt. This cannot be more than the amount stated in the above
If the landlord gives you a written statement disputing the
need for the repair within the 14 days, you must obtain a "written
certification" from a local or government department that the condition needing
repair is in violation of a local municipal housing or building code. If you are able to
obtain this certification, you must give it to the landlord who then has 14 more days to
correct the problem. If the landlord does not correct the problem, you can then have the
All work must be done in a "workmanlike" manner.
Remember to keep all receipts and statements concerning these expenses. You will need to
provide them to the landlord as verification before you deduct rent.
During a one year period you may only deduct a total of one
If the problem is a serious one which will cost more than
$300 or one-half of the monthly rent to repair, this law may not apply. If you have
serious sanitation, health, structural problems, heating or plumbing problems, you should
always contact your local city government about the problems. They may be a violation of
housing or building codes in your city.
For these types of serious problems you may also be allowed
to withhold your rent and pay it into escrow. This is a complicated procedure and you
should talk to an attorney before beginning this process. If you cannot afford an
attorney, you should contact Legal Aid of Western Missouri, or the Legal Aid in your area
"Habitability" means a serious problem that
prevents you from living comfortably in the house or apartment.
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