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Just Because the Landlord Doesn't Keep His Word, Doesn't Mean You Can Withhold the Rent

Let's say you're in a court battle with the landlord over necessary repairs, and you manage to hammer out a settlement. The landlord agrees to correct defective conditions by a certain date, and you agree to pay rent due. Next thing you know, the repairs are never made, or aren't completed, or are made inadequately. Can you withhold the payment? Probably not. Settlement agreements generally bind you to paying rent even if repairs aren't made, so you can be evicted if you don't pay. The proper response is to go back to court and fill out documents setting forth the facts of the situation to the judge. You can obtain the appropriate forms from the Court Clerk. If your explanation justifies it, the judge will order the landlord to return to court and account for why the conditions were not corrected. You may still have to pay the full or partial rent, but the judge may require it paid into the court instead of the landlord, at least until the repairs are finished. You may also be entitled to a reduction in rent to compensate for loss of services during the delay. Generally, it's best to have a Tenants' lawyer draft or review your papers. If you can't afford it, Housing Court has an attorney on staff who can provide limited assistance. 

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