What to Do if Your Landlord Violates the Lease Agreement

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It’s an awful to position to be in when your landlord violates the lease agreement.  The major concern is that you’ll upset your landlord, who might retaliate and kick you out of your apartment. If you’ve been living there for a long time and are paying a lower rent compared to most apartment rentals in your area, or your options for renting somewhere else is limited, you may not want to “rock the boat” with your landlord.  At least you should know what your options are, so that you can make a good decision based on the circumstances.

Examples of a Landlord Violation

There are number of minor and major ways in which a landlord can violate the lease agreement. Some examples are:

  • Not making minor repairs
  • Doesn’t return security deposit
  • Refuses to pay interest on security deposit to tenant
  • Failure to clear walkways and driveways
  • Frequent inspects apartment without notice to tenant

The landlord needs a written notice of the violation, in order to remedy it. Even if you believe the landlord is intentionally violating the lease, you still have a legal duty to put them on notice.

Make a Written Request

It’s important to have documentation of the violations, and you should be as detailed as possible. First, explain any historyof the problem, and your attempts to get a resolution. Explain the need for the violation to be “cured” or corrected, and the promise made in the lease agreement to do that. Sign and date it, and send it Certified Mail through the post office, requesting your landlord’s signature. It’s good to have this for your records, and if you want to take legal action, it will be evidence that you can submit to the court. If you make verbal requests, then it’s your landlord’s word against yours, and a judge could rule for your landlord.

Third Party Involvement

Another step to take prior to or in lieu of suing your landlord is to involve a third party. If the relationship between you and your landlord is strained, you probably won’t be able to communicate effectively to resolve the matter. A third party can be helpful though, and it has to be someone that doesn’t have a vested interest on either side. For example, a property manager has a financial interest in siding with the landlord and won’t be a good pick. If your landlord agrees to involving a third party, you can hire a mediator.

Small Claims Court

Suing your landlord in small claims court for violating the lease agreement should not be your first move if you want to stay in your apartment.  Most landlords will do everything possible to evict you, in order to avoid future lawsuits. However, if you plan to move out or have already done so, then small claims court is a reasonable option to get money back for damages. It will also help to warn future tenants if they research court cases against your landlord, as part of their apartment search strategy.

Don’t abandon your apartment when the landlord violates the lease agreement, unless you’re positive that you have a legal right to do so. The same goes for withholding rent payments. Otherwise, you’ll be held liable for damages, back rent and legal fees if the landlord turns around and takes you to court.

12 Responses to “What to Do if Your Landlord Violates the Lease Agreement”

  1. March 03, 2013 at 6:02 pm, Richard arias said:

    Is it legal for my landlord to have people living on a section attached to my leased property with utilities under my name and allow them to use my mail box without my permisoin ???


  2. March 07, 2013 at 2:55 pm, steve maguire said:

    me my wife and 2 kids were moving this sat / all transport to move was ready and payed for the letting agent was payed £650 up front plus the fee of £120 to vet me and my wife, then this fri we were to sign the contract and pay the other £650, everything is all packed to go, but this morning my wife was told the landlord has sold the house, we were giving back the keys to the old house on monday,now we have no house .what do we do ,,,,,,,,, plz help


  3. May 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm, vicky said:

    I have be living in my apartment for 5 years and just this month the accounting person sends me alate fee bill stating that my rent was turned in after 5 on the then she also told me that she has been letting alot of people get by without paying late fees but now sense my job is on the line i need to be the bad Guy and do my job can she just send a late fee notice or does she have to have it in writing that even though it state in the leas agreement that rent needs to be in by 5 on the3rd i am enforcing this in writing


  4. December 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm, Jess said:

    In my lease it very strictly says no pets, yet my landlord has allowed a roommate to move into the house with her dog, without consulting the other 5 of us who live there. The dog has deficated in every single room of the house, even peed on some of our college books. We’ve spoken to the landlord several times about this, but he has yet to do anything. Is there anything that my roommates or I can do legal wise?


  5. January 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm, Paige said:

    Our landlord decided it was ok to do a random check on our apartment and walked in while we were gone without any notice. she said she does it often and shes allowed but when she tried to prove it and the lease clearly stated that she was required to give 24 hours notice when possible, she stuttered and changed her story. she gave us like 2 different stories as to why she was in my apartment, neither of them qualified to do so without notice. she said she “just happened to be in the neighbor hood” and wanted to check my vents, then she said someone reported a strange smell, which did not exist. Im highly irritated. not only is it a violation of the lease its a violation of privacy. and were the only ones she does it to.


  6. October 02, 2016 at 12:20 pm, Theresa Garcia said:

    Paid deposit and application Dee. They wwanted me to turn on my utilities b4 move in date and said no. They called to say bathtubs needed to be reglazed 3days after we were to move in then was offered to move in 1day early. Started electric n moved in a few items n did a check off list walk thru. They called to come in office next morning when we said this apartment was dirty n had not been cleaned rips in tile carpet dirty n soiled etc. She got upset n said we were difficult n it would b best not to move in. We took what little we had n went back to motel we had for a few more days n explained. She wrote agreement we refused apartment n would refund $345.00. She only returned $300. Also stated since we turned on utilities would pay $40 each gas n electricity when we transferred service. Explained we live in motel in we're staying here then gave us 3months to start up new services. They supplied gas electric and cable company to contact n refuse to reimburse us for cable $168.00 which we disconnected that day. We might not stay in Arizona n return to California with family n friends. What happens to $40 ea utilities let alone cable. The apartment was not move in ready. We kept the list , lease all papers. She said she's sending us $45.00 but She already broke her own agreement


  7. October 30, 2016 at 12:53 am, Mario Cisneros said:

    Apt.manager has had us in apt. Without a. C. Since beginning of this month October and refuses to fix it so gave us an eviction notice why can they get away with that


  8. November 02, 2016 at 11:13 pm, Jerome Wharton said:

    My landlord broke the lease,gave me check for my deposit back. But the check was no good, i took the landlord to small claims court and she did not show up in court. The judge granted me double the amount,but how do i take further action to get my money.


  9. November 16, 2016 at 5:36 am, Denny Edquist Jr said:

    I signed a 12 month lease at Greenfield apartments back in July that says I only pay for water and electric. Well, I'm about 5 months into my lease and I get a notice from them telling me I have to start paying gas for December and first payment due the first of the year. That's not in my lease agreement. My lease does not say pay gas for six months….I did not sign up for this!! My main reason for signing this lease was because I didn't have to pay for gas! Can they do this? Isn't this a violation of my lease? What can I do?


  10. December 05, 2016 at 1:54 pm, Marlo said:

    Can anyone tell me who do I talk to remove lease violation off of me when they are false accusations


  11. January 25, 2017 at 5:42 pm, Lisa Tifft said:

    My landlord violated the terms of my lease by not repairing problems. He said he will not refund my security deposit if I early terminate. I feel he has no right keeping my money when he violates.


  12. February 17, 2017 at 8:42 am, Aaron said:

    My landlord stated in the lease agreement that he would repair certain things within the house within 6 weeks of us moving in. After many emails and phone calls some fixes were made but not all. Is this a violation of the lease?


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