Landlords are required to keep your home in a habitable living condition but what may seem habitable to them, you may differ on opinion on. If your home needs repairs and your landlord has refused or ignored your requests, here are some rules to follow to handle the situation properly.
Review Your Contract and Local Laws
Look over your rental contract to see if it specifies what kind of repairs the landlord will cover. It may be vague and open to interpretation but if it is specific you can use it to argue your situation with the landlord. In the meantime, continue to pay your rent as usual. If you do not pay your rent and breach your contract then the landlord will not be required to uphold any part of their side of the agreement. Check with state ordinances to see what local laws say that landlords must cover. In most states they are required to cover major repairs.
Assess the Repairs
Reassess the repairs and determine if they are indeed major repairs. If the repairs are minor you will probably have to live with them or do it yourself. If they are major repairs or borderline continue with the process with your landlord to attempt to get them to cover the expense. Repairs usually covered by a landlord include repairs to outside walls, structural problems with inside walls or floors, heating, water supply, roof repairs, plumbing or electrical problem.
Submit your request for repairs in writing instead of just verbally requesting the repairs. Request that the landlord submit their reply to you in writing as well. If the landlord continues to deny the repairs this will at least give you documentation of the process you followed. Take pictures to document the repairs as well. Inform the landlord that you are documenting this process. If you find legal proof in your contract or in local ordinances, be sure to include this information in the communication with your landlord. Knowing you are taking this process seriously and knowing they are legally responsible for the repairs, will probably be enough to convince them to do it.
Take It to the Next Step
If the landlord still denies your request for repairs you will have to move things to the next level. If the repairs are serious and may cause health or safety concerns, contact your local environmental health agency for assistance. If the repairs are major but do not involve your health or safety write again to the landlord offering to organize the repairs, have a estimate done and then deduct the amount from your monthly rent. Be sure to get the landlord’s agreement in writing before proceeding.
If the landlord still does not agree to the repairs you may want to contact a lawyer or a local center for housing advice. They should be able to advice you what your rights are and how to proceed fro this point on. Sometimes simply letting the landlord know that you have contacted a lawyer or a center for housing advice may convince them to proceed with the repairs.