New Mexico Renter’s Rights for Repairs

New Mexico Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: September 12, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

In general, a landlord in New Mexico has to repair any issues at a rental property that could affect a tenant’s health or safety. The landlord must repair issues within seven days of getting written notice from the tenant about the needed repairs.

New Mexico Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

New Mexico landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Plumbing.
  • Required utilities.
  • Heating.
  • Hot water.
  • Garbage containers and removal.
  • Required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
  • Provided appliances.
  • Common areas.
  • Features that affect health, safety, or habitability, or are required by local code.

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in New Mexico?

New Mexico tenants are responsible for repairing any damage they cause to the property through their own negligent or deliberately reckless actions.

The landlord and tenant can sometimes agree (usually in writing) for the tenant to handle particular maintenance. Except for very specific cases applicable to single-family homes, the landlord usually can’t evict or otherwise penalize a tenant who fails to do maintenance that’s normally the landlord’s responsibility.

Requesting Repairs in New Mexico

New Mexico tenants must request repairs by providing the landlord written notice about the issue. The landlord must do repairs within seven days. The tenant has to choose whether they want to break the lease or abate (withhold part of) rent if the landlord doesn’t do timely repairs.

If the chosen remedy is rent abatement, all the tenant needs to do is request repairs in writing and wait seven days.

If the tenant wants to break the lease, this intention has to be stated in the repair request. An example of language a tenant might use to state this intention is: “If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter may exercise his right to cancel the rental agreement seven or more days from today.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in New Mexico?

New Mexico landlords have seven days to reasonably attempt repairs after getting proper written notice about an issue from the tenant.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in New Mexico?

New Mexico landlords cannot refuse to make repairs that are their responsibility.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in New Mexico?

New Mexico landlords are not required to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs. However, any situation that deprives the tenant of access to the property lets the tenant break the lease or abate (withhold) 100% of the rent after seven days, until the issue is fixed.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in New Mexico

New Mexico tenants can cancel the rental agreement if the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs. Alternatively, they can abate (withhold) rent payments. In either case, they can sue for damages or get an injunction to force repairs.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in New Mexico?

New Mexico tenants can withhold rent, seven days after written notice when the landlord hasn’t reasonably attempted repairs. Withholding rent prevents the tenant from canceling the lease for the same violation.

In most cases, the tenant is allowed to reduce rent payments by one-third, until the issue is fixed. However, when the issue completely prevents use of the property and the tenant temporarily moves out, the tenant can withhold 100% of rent until the issue is fixed.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in New Mexico?

New Mexico law does not provide specific rules for a tenant to conduct repairs and deduct from the rent. However, New Mexico allows rent withholding, and in many cases there’s no legal issue with tenants spending withheld funds on repairs. Repair and deduct is informally legal under precedent of decided cases.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in New Mexico?

New Mexico tenants can break their lease seven days after written notice, for failure to repair issues that weren’t the tenant’s responsibility or other uncorrected breaches of the rental agreement, if they didn’t withhold rent for that violation.

Tenants can move out and break their lease immediately, when the property is destroyed or severely damaged by an action that wasn’t the tenant’s fault (for example, a hurricane).

Can the Tenant Sue in New Mexico?

New Mexico tenants can sue to force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs after proper notice.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in New Mexico?

New Mexico tenants can report landlords for code violations that affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.

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Landlord Retaliation in New Mexico

It’s illegal for New Mexico landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past six months:

  • Complaining to the landlord or the government about failure to maintain the property.
  • Participating in a tenant organization.
  • Pursuing rights or remedies given by New Mexico’s landlord-tenant law.
  • Being involved in a lawsuit against the landlord that relates to the rental property.
  • Abating (withholding) some or all of the rent according to the proper legal procedure.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.

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