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:
Garbage containers and removal.
Required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
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.
What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in New Mexico?
New Mexico tenants are responsible for repairingany damage they cause to the propertythrough 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 repairsby 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 haveseven daysto 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 landlordscannot refuse to make repairsthat are their responsibility.
Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in New Mexico?
New Mexico landlords arenot required to pay for alternative accommodationwhile 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 cancancel the rental agreementif the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs. Alternatively, they canabate (withhold) rent payments.In either case, they cansue for damagesorget an injunctionto force repairs.
Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in New Mexico?
New Mexico tenantscan 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 tenantscan break their leaseseven 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 leaseimmediately,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 tenantscan sueto 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 tenantscan report landlords for code violationsthat 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.
It’s illegal for New Mexico landlords to retaliate withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst 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.
“Upon the failure of the owner to perform his obligations as required by Section 47-8-20 NMSA 1978 [landlord’s responsibilities for habitability], the resident shall give written notice to the owner specifying the breach and if there is a material noncompliance by the owner with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act materially affecting health and safety, the resident shall deliver a written notice to the owner specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach. The notice shall state that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than seven days after receipt of the notice if a reasonable attempt to remedy the breach is not made in seven days, and the rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice. If the owner makes a reasonable attempt to adequately remedy the breach prior to the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement shall not terminate. If the rental agreement is terminated by the resident and possession restored to the owner, the owner shall return the balance, if any, of prepaid rent and deposit to which the resident is entitled pursuant to the rental agreement or Section 47-8-18 NMSA 1978.”
“If there is a violation of Subsection A of Section 47-8-20 NMSA 1978 [landlord’s responsibilities for habitability], other than a failure or defect in an amenity, the resident shall give written notice to the owner of the conditions needing repair. If the owner does not remedy the conditions set out in the notice within seven days of the notice, the resident is entitled to abate rent as set forth below.”
“The owner shall: (1) substantially comply with requirements of the applicable minimum housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
“(2) make repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a safe condition as provided by applicable law and rules and regulations as provided in Section 47-8-23 NMSA 1978;
“(3) keep common areas of the premises in a safe condition;
“(4) maintain in good and safe working order and condition electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, if any, supplied or required to be supplied by him;
“(5) provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal from the appropriate receptacle.”
“The owner shall supply running water and a reasonable amount of hot water at all times and reasonable heat, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the resident and supplied by a direct public utility connection.”
“If there exists a minimum housing code applicable to the premises, the owner’s maximum duty under this section shall be determined by Paragraph (1) of Subsection A of this section. The obligations imposed by this section are not intended to change existing tort law in the state.”
“Single-or multiple-station smoke alarms shall be installed and maintained… On the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms. In each room used for sleeping purposes. In each story within a dwelling unit, including basements but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.”
New Mexico incorporates the 2009 International Residential Code, with amendments. “For new construction, an approved carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in dwelling units within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages. Where work requiring a permit occurs in existing dwellings that have attached garages or in existing dwellings within which fuel-fired appliances exist, carbon monoxide alarms shall be provided in accordance with Section R315.1
“The resident shall keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit, and, upon termination of the residency, place the dwelling unit in as clean condition, excepting ordinary wear and tear, as when residency commenced; dispose from his dwelling unit all ashes, rubbish, garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner; keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the resident as clean as their condition permits; use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances including elevators, if any, in the premises; not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so;… [and] not knowingly commit or consent to any other person knowingly committing a substantial violation.”
“C. The owner and resident of a single family residence may agree that the resident perform the owner’s duties specified in Paragraphs (5) and (6) of Subsection A of this section and also specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations and remodeling, but only if the transaction is in writing, for consideration, entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the owner.
“D. The owner and resident of a dwelling unit other than a single family residence may agree that the resident is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations or remodeling only if: (1) the agreement of the parties is entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the owner and is set forth in a separate writing signed by the parties and supported by consideration; and (2) the agreement does not diminish or affect the obligation of the owner to other residents in the premises.”
“Notwithstanding any provision of this section, an owner may arrange with a resident to perform the obligations of the owner. Any such arrangement between the owner and the resident will not serve to diminish the owner’s obligations as set forth in this section, nor shall the failure of the resident to perform the obligations of the owner serve as a basis for eviction or in any way be considered a material breach by the resident of his obligations under the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act or the rental agreement.”
“If the resident proceeds under Paragraph (1) of Subsection A of this section [terminating lease], he shall not proceed under Paragraph (2) of Subsection A of this section [rent abatement] in the same rental period for the same violation. If the resident proceeds under Paragraph (2) of Subsection A of this section, he shall not proceed under Paragraph (1) of Subsection A of this section in the same rental period for the same violation. A resident may, however, proceed under another paragraph of Subsection A of this section for a subsequent violation or the same violation that occurs in subsequent rental periods.”
“[The tenant may abate] one-third of the pro-rata daily rent for each day from the date the resident notified the owner of the conditions needing repair, through the day the conditions in the notice are remedied. If the conditions complained of continue to exist without remedy through any portion of a subsequent rental period, the resident may abate at the same rate for each day that the conditions are not remedied; and one hundred percent of the rent for each day from the date the resident notified the owner of the conditions needing repair until the date the breach is cured if the dwelling is uninhabitable and the resident does not inhabit the dwelling unit as a result of the condition.”
While there is no caselaw directly on point, the recent holding of Cheng v. Rabey, 525 P.3d 405 (2022) implicitly affirms that tenants who validly abate rent may validly spent that abatement on needed repairs:
“Tenant next argues that the district court erred by denying his requests for abatement because he served Landlord with several written requests for repairs for defective conditions… We first observe that Tenant did not actually abate any rent for repairs. Regardless, Tenant is not entitled to abatement under UORRA. Tenant did not give Landlord any written notice of the needed repairs until August 3 and did not ask for any abatement or reimbursement in writing… While Tenant could have abated his rent for the following month, because Tenant moved out on August 23, Tenant did not abate any of his rent or exercise any other remedies available to him under UORRA.”
“If the dwelling unit or premises are damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty to an extent that enjoyment of the dwelling unit is substantially impaired, the resident may vacate the premises and notify the owner in writing within seven days thereafter of his intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of vacating.”
“The resident may also recover damages and obtain injunctive relief for any material noncompliance by the owner with the rental agreement or the provisions of Section 47-8-20 NMSA 1978 [landlord’s responsibilities for habitability]. The remedy provided in this subsection is in addition to any right of the resident arising under Subsection A of this section.”
“An owner may not retaliate against a resident who is in compliance with the rental agreement and not otherwise in violation of any provision of the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act by increasing rent, decreasing services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession because the resident has within the previous six months: (1) complained to a government agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a minimum building or housing code of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety; (2) organized or become a member of a residents’ union, association or similar organization; (3) acted in good faith to exercise his rights provided under the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, including when the resident makes a written request or complaint to the owner to make repairs to comply with the owner’s obligations under Section 47-8-20 NMSA 1978.”
“An owner may not retaliate against a resident who (4) made a fair housing complaint to a government agency charged with authority for enforcement of laws or regulations prohibiting discrimination in rental housing; (5) prevailed in a lawsuit as either plaintiff or defendant or has a lawsuit pending against the owner relating to the residency; (6) testified on behalf of another resident; or (7) abated rent in accordance with the provisions of Section 47-8-27.1 or 47-8-27.2 NMSA 1978.”
“B. If the owner acts in violation of Subsection A of this section, the resident is entitled to the remedies provided in Section 47-8-48 NMSA 1978 and the violation shall be a defense in any action against him for possession.
“C. Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection A of this section, the owner may increase the rent or change services upon appropriate notice at the end of the term of the rental agreement or as provided under the terms of the rental agreement if the owner can establish that the increased rent or changes in services are consistent with those imposed on other residents of similar rental units and are not directed at the particular resident, but are uniform.”