How to Withhold Rent for Repairs

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The following document ONLY applies to jurisdictions in Kentucky that have enacted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act. These jurisdictions are: Barbourville, Bellevue, Bromley, Covington, Dayton, Florence, Lexington-Fayette County, Georgetown, Louisville-Jefferson County, Ludlow, Melbourne, Newport, Oldham County, Pulaski County, Shelbyville, Silver Grove, Southgate, Taylor Mill and Woodlawn.

If you do NOT live in one of these jurisdictions, please do not rely on this document for legal advice.

Further, this information only applies to residential leases. It does not apply to: commercial units, properties under contract for sale, hotels or motels, or people who are employed by the landlord.

See also: information on landlord's maintenance obligations and Sample Letter to Landlord: Repair and Deduct.


You have the right to live in a safe and healthy apartment. If your landlord is not complying with his duties to provide you this, you do have a remedy. However, DO NOT withhold your rent without taking the following steps. Doing so may result in your eviction.

If a landlord fails to comply with the rental agreement affecting health and safety than you can notify him through certified mail of your intention to correct the condition. This letter should inform him that if he does not repair within 14 days such repairs will be made at his own expense.


Mr. Landlord,
If you do not repair CONDITION within 14 days of receiving this notice then repairs will be made at your own expense and will be deducted from my rent.
- Ms. Tenant

Retain a copy of your letter and the return receipt you receive via certified mail. If your landlord does not respond and repair the condition within 14 days after he received the letter then you may correct the condition yourself.

This correction may NOT be more than $100 or ½ of your rent, whichever amount is greater. (For example, if your rent is $400 then you can correct up to $200. But, if your rent is $120 then you can correct up to $100.)

After the work is finished you need to send the landlord an itemized statement for all of the work done (once again not exceeding ½ your rent or $100 whichever is greater)


Ms. Landlord,
I repaired CONDITION since you did not repair within 14 days of receiving notice of this condition. I made the repairs on DATE the costs were:
(etc. etc.)
The total amount is TOTAL COST I will deduct this amount from this months rent.
-Mr. Tenant

Keep a copy of this letter as well as any receipts you have for the cost of repairing the condition. If you think it is necessary take before and after pictures as well.

Only then can you deduct these costs from your rent. Please note that you CAN NOT withhold your rent without correcting the condition in your apartment. Also, any repair that is needed because of something that you, a member of your family or a guest in your residence deliberately caused may NOT be deducted.

Additionally if you are on the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program you can call your representative and ask them to make an inspection of the premises. If they find the condition to be below reasonable health and safety standards then they can withhold their portion of the rent. However if they choose to do so you cannot then withhold your portion as well.

Reviewed September 2007