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What if your Georgia landlord won't make repairs?

Whether it's a leaky faucet that's driving you crazy and increasing your water bill or a broken air conditioner that's making you miserable in the heat, you rely on your landlord to make the repairs. After all, that's one of the biggest benefits of being a renter, right?

However, landlords aren't always the most conscientious people, especially when it comes to maintenance and repairs. After all, it costs money to keep the building in good shape and fix things that are broken -- and that can hurt a landlord's bottom line.

So what can renters do when a landlord has left them to fend for themselves? In Georgia, you don't have the right to withhold your rent until your landlord makes needed repairs, but you do have the right to "repair and deduct."

What does that mean? Essentially, it gives you the right to step into your landlord's shoes and hire someone to do the repairs. You can then deduct the cost of those repairs from your rent.

Naturally, this probably isn't going to make your landlord happy. To protect your interests, it's wise to:

  • Communicate your request for repairs in writing, even if you've repeatedly asked them verbally. Give your landlord a reasonable time to respond and make arrangements for the repairs. (Exactly what is "reasonable" may vary on the situation. A drip from the faucet, for example, isn't nearly as critical as a broken lock on your door or sewage that's backing up in the basement.)
  • Hire a licensed professional for the repairs. (Do not use a friend or neighbor's services because they're cheaper.)
  • Only do the basic repairs or replacement work. Don't upgrade anything or make major changes.
  • Keep all your receipts for parts and labor so that you can submit copies (not the originals) with your reduced rent.

Landlord-tenant disputes have the potential to become serious issues. Think about getting an experienced attorney's take on the issue.

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