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Can i withhold rent or even sue my landlord for him not fixing the roof that has been leaking for the last 3 years?

Altoona, PA |

The roof has been leaking for the last 3 years and after several attempts of asking my landlord to fix it, he has not done it stating he doesnt have the 6000 to pay for it but yet just built a brand new home for his family. The roof is now leaking in a different area of the house and i want something done about it.

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Attorney answers 1


The answer to your questions depends on how bad the leak is. Pennsylvania law requires landlords to provide a safe and sanitary dwelling for their tenants. This concept is known as the implied warranty of habitability. If a landlord has breached the warranty by failing to make repairs after being notified, then the tenant may have cause for withholding the rent until repairs are made.

However, if you withhold the rent, your landlord will probably attempt to evict you. You would be afforded a hearing, where you could explain to the District Judge why you weren't paying rent. At the hearing, you will have to present evidence of a serious defect (a bad leak) and explain why it threatens your health and/or safety. Even if you are successful at the hearing, you will probably have to pay back most or some of the rent you withheld (so save it, don't spend it).

I would recommend seeking the advice of a landlord tenant attorney or, if you are low-income, contacting Mid-Penn legal services prior to withholding rent.

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Marshall Chriswell

Law Offices of Marshall D. Chriswell
714 Philadelphia St., Suite 200
Indiana, PA 15701
(888) 438-5977
(724) 465-5826


Marshall D. Chriswell is a civil practitioner with offices in Indiana and Clearfield Counties. Mr. Chriswell's practice emphasizes Wills & Estate Planning, Probate, Real Estate, and general civil disputes.


Mr. Chriswell provides free initial consultations, and will gladly meet clients in their homes upon request, including on the evenings or weekends.

This communication does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, feel free to contact our offices.