The ceiling and flooring in the living hall of the Property have been damaged due to leakage from the rooftop. Due to the leaks, the living hall cannot be used by Sally, the tenant.
Sally notified the landlord, Matt of this scenario and was told that his contractor needs a month to produce a quotation for the repair and another month for construction/renovation work to be done. During this whole period, Sally will not be able to use the living hall area.
Sally then proposed to Matt to not pay rental for two months as she claims that she cannot ‘enjoy the Property fully’.
Is this allowed?
Let us look at Matt’s situation first. Ceilings and flooring are main structures in the Property. Landlords are responsible for maintenance of the main structures of the Property in a good condition so that tenants can enjoy the Property.
Also as a landlord, Matt has an obligation to ensure that his tenant Sally can peacefully enjoy the Property. Thus, Matt has the responsibility to repair the damage on the ceiling and flooring of the Property at his own costs and expenses (provided that the damage is not done by the fault of the tenant).
For Sally, as a tenant, she has the obligation to pay the rental. By not paying the rental, she will be in breach of the tenancy agreement between her and Matt. Matt has a right to bring an action against Sally for that cause, though Matt is obliged to repair the damage on the ceiling and flooring of the Property.
Instead, Sally should:
1. Continue paying the rental; and 2. Propose (in writing) to Matt to have the damage repaired within a certain fixed period of time, failing which Sally will get her own contractor to repair the damage done to the Property at Matt’s costs and expenses via deduction of the monthly rental payable by Sally to Matt. In that case, Sally would probably be able to get the repair done quicker and would be able to enjoy the Property earlier.
If Matt does not agree to this and brings an action against Sally for wrongful deduction of rental and/or failure by Sally to pay the rental fully, Sally can show that she has done all reasonable acts to have the repair done and in turn may have a counterclaim against Matt for damages due to the failure by Matt to allow peaceful enjoyment of the Property by Sally.