When a landlord fails to make a significant repair in a reasonable amount of time, and the defect is material, the tenant can repair at his or her own cost and then deduct the cost of the repairs from rent. The defect must be material, which renders the resident unlivable, then the tenant repair and deduct. Examples are a broken heater in the winter and severe structural damage. Tenant caused damages do not fall under repair and deduct.
Different jurisdictions have different laws regulating repair-and-deduct, as there is no common law basis. Although in some jurisdictions, the implied warranty of habitability has been construed to include repair and deduct as an appropriate remedy. Some jurisdictions require the tenants give written notice to the landlord, and only when the landlord fails to repair for a reasonable time can the tenants repair and deduct the cost. Some jurisdictions have limited the deduction to a certain amount.
[Last updated in April of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]