My lease has a section "tenet agrees to perform any minor repairs and replacements. minor repairs/replacements shall be defined by any repairs under 195$ or less. Landlord shall be responsable for repairs ubove the 195$ minimum tenets responsibility.
Now he wants 195$ From me to replace a water heater that completely needs to be replaced and requires a permit and plumber. The total cost is over 700$.
I refuse to pay because i only have been here 5 months and can't pay to replace the old appliances.
I know in Florida you can sue for some of the rent you pay. Based on unlivable conditions that devalue the property.
It's hard to say for sure without reading the entire lease, but I'd say that just looking at that clause alone, it reads like it could mean either "tenant is responsible for $195 of repairs and landlord will pay all amounts over that" or "tenant is responsible for repairs that cost less than $195, and landlord is responsible for all repairs that cost more than $195." I personally think the ladder is reasonable. However, you might need to litigate that issue. I would also say, yes you can sue the landlord for some of your rent back if the property is un-livable or uninhabitable. However, a Water Heater needing to be replaced would likely not qualify as such conditions. I'd say you need to consult with a Florida licensed attorney and have them review the lease. You might just want to stand firm on your opinion that the lease does not require you to pay for any repairs that cost over $195 and have an attorney on stand-by in case the landlord attempts to evict you for not paying the $195.
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If you can't afford to pay for the repairs agreed to you should not have opted to rent a single family home with such provisions. Under Chap. 83, single family home renters can be held to maintain/repair the property through the lease agreement in a much different fashion than renting multifamily units like an apartment. Given the value in dispute, you would be best served to pay the money at issue, have the water heater replaced and not renew the the lease when its up and move elsewhere. If you can't afford spending $195.00 you certainly have no real expectation of filing a lawsuit later over the issue so you have to make practical choices here.
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Unless you are willing to agree to pay the entire amount, you will need to consult with a good local real estate attorney to review your lease, and investigate the facts further, and then determine whether you have a good case here. However, based on the facts you present, and the language (as you sate it) I think it is clear that this is NOT a "minor repair" (as that term is very specifically defined in the lease) and the landlord is misconstruing this language in his favor. Moreover, as the odds are good the landlord, and (i.e., not you) drafted this particular provision (if not the entire lease) it will be likely construed AGAINST him. And yes, generally, if providing hot water (which many courts consider a health/safety issue) is made the landlord's responsibility under the lease, than a tenant may demand the HW heater be repaired w/7 days of written notice, or he will terminate the lease (or otherwise be entitled to a reduction in rent).
However; as I said, to be sure about all of his, you should a good local real estate attorney to review the rest of your lease, investigate the facts, and then advise you as to your options here.
Hope this helps.
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