Landlord Won't Fix Your Repairs List? Here's What To Do

If you have a landlord and have a repairs list, sometimes it can be difficult to get a hold of them and get things fixed, so here are a few things you should know about how to handle those situations.


Know your rights: To find an apartment is step one. If you are a renting tenant, memorize these words, “Implied warrant of habitability”. Residential landlords need to maintain their rental units in a safe, operable, and sanitary condition. What makes places unfit to live vary by state. Here are some general rules that you have a right to have during your lease period:

  • Hot water and drinking water
  • Heat during winter months
  • Electricity and plumbing
  • Locking doors and windows
  • A place free from bugs, rats, and other pests
  • Building code requirements met

If there’s a problem with your rental unit that makes it unlivable, now is not the time to try and take advantage of the landlord. If you think you can get away with living rent-free for unfavorable living conditions, think again. The best you can probably do is withhold rent for a short period of time, but that’s it. Instead here’s what you should do:

  1. Tell the landlord the problem and request it be fixed immediately. You should have open and honest communication with your landlord.
  2. Send a certified letter if your relationship with them is poor, or if you didn’t receive a written or oral response from them. Be sure to state the problem in the letter and when it began. Have a copy of this letter.
  3. Be sure to give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix your requests’. The general rule is 30 days unless it is an emergency.
  4. Let the landlord or repairman in to fix, but make sure they tell you when they plan to fix it.

Not every repair is always their responsibility. Sometimes it can be your fault if you forget to scrape the dyer lent out of your dryer.

Hearing Crickets: You’ve played by the rules and the problem is still not fixed. What now?

This is never an easy situation, but if the problem is a severe one, like a ceiling is collapsing, or there’s a giant leak, you can and should take matters into your own hands. If this be the case, you should stop paying rent and put that money aside. Next you should demand the repairs be made and then the rent will be paid in full. If it is extra hair, you may want to talk to an attorney.

Need more options: Here are a few more options

Withholding rent- only a few states allow this and only under certain conditions. If this is a minor repair and you are withholding rent, you might want to reconsider. This only works for a major repair like stated above. If your state does allow this as a suitable action, you may have to put that rent in an escrow account to prove you aren’t trying to live rent-free. If you do not play by state rules, the landlord has to option to evict you and possibly sue you.

Repair-and-deduct- Not all states allow this rule either, but it simply states to fix the repair at your cost (not a new paint job) and deduct it from your rent.

Report code violations- contact your county government’s health or building inspector to come take a look. Get a copy of this report as well. If a violation is found, the landlord is required to fix it.

Move- You may be able to break your lease if the property is condemned because the landlord was unwilling to fix the problem(s). Be sure to consult the landlord before just leaving. This issue applies only to habitability issues, and even then you must follow the procedures outlines by your state’s law.




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