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Real estate Q&A: Apartment pool closes for five months. Is rent discount in order? [Sun Sentinel :: BC-REAL-REALESTATE-QA:FL]

Q: The pool where I rent an apartment was closed for five months for renovations. We feel that our rent should be reduced because the use of the pool is part of what we are renting. Are we entitled to the discount? - Thomas

A: Much of this answer will depend on the wording of your lease. However, if your lease reads like the typical one, then the answer is no, you would not be entitled to a discount in your rent in this situation. This is because in a typical lease you are renting the apartment you live in and are being allowed to use the common areas as if you were any other condo unit owner.

Of course, if your lease specifically included the pool or other common areas as part of the rent then you might be entitled to a discount. But since your lease most likely just allows you the use of the common areas, subject to the condo's rules, you still need to pay your full rent.

When a rented home is damaged and becomes uninhabitable, the tenant does not have to pay rent for the period it is unusable. If a rental becomes only partially uninhabitable, the rent is decreased by the amount of market rent due to the damaged area. For example, if a three-bedroom home has a leak in one of the bedrooms and it becomes unusable for a time while it is being repaired, the rent would be discounted to an amount appropriate for a two-bedroom home.

If you had rented a single-family home with a pool and the pool becomes unusable, the rent would be discounted to the amount appropriate for a similar home without a pool.

All of this is, of course, subject to the terms of the lease that was signed. Also, these rules generally only apply to substantial or long-term damage. So you should not expect a discount on your rent if your dishwasher goes on the fritz and is repaired the following Monday.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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