Note: This article applies to rent paid on residential property such as apartments and homes. Different rules apply to commercial property.
Mississippi’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
This Mississippi Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (the “Act”) can be found starting at Section 89-8-1 of the Mississippi Code. The Act covers many issues between a landlord and tenant, including whether a tenant can withhold rent until the landlord makes repairs is addressed by the Act.
The tenant cannot simply refuse to pay rent until a repair is made. Instead, in some circumstances, the tenant can have the repairs made and then reduce the rent payments by the cost of the repairs.
What type of repairs are covered?
Not every minor repair is covered by the Act. Instead, the right of a tenant to make repairs (and then withhold rent to recover the cost) is limited to these types of repairs:
- Those necessary to bring the property into compliance with the applicable building and housing codes affecting health and safety.
- Repairs needed to maintain the property, its plumbing, heating and/or cooling system, in substantially the same condition as at the inception of the lease, reasonable wear and tear excluded.
- Others specific and material defects that constitute a breach of the terms of the rental agreement.
What does the tenant have to do first?
The tenant must give the landlord written notice of the need for a repair. The landlord then has 30 days in which to make the repairs.
What happens if the landlord does not make the repair?
If the landlord does not make the repair within 30 days, the tenant can have the repair made. In that event, the tenant is entitled to be reimbursed by the landlord within 45 days.
If the landlord does not reimburse the tenant, then the tenant may deduct the cost of repairs from the rent.
Before the tenant can be reimbursed, the tenant must be:
- Current on rent, and
- In full compliance with the tenant’s other duties to the landlord.
In addition, the charges for the repairs (i) must be reasonable and customary and (ii) may not exceed one months’ rent.
Finally, the tenant may exercise the right to make repairs and then offset the cost against rent only once every six months.
What if the necessary repairs costs more than $600?
In this situation, the tenant cannot take advantage of the right to make the repair and offset rent. But, if the landlord does not make the repair itself, it may very well be in breach of the lease, giving the tenant the right to terminate the lease.
Panter Law Firm, PLLC, 7736 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison, MS 39110.