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Best Ways to Get Your Landlord to Make a Repair

Your options for getting a landlord to make a repair vary from state to state, but in general you can either leave or pay less rent as long as the problem is their responsibility.


We've all been there: something very annoying or very serious is broken in our apartment and the landlord won't deal with it. Well, what can you do? The short answer is not much if it's not their responsibility, and a lot if it is their responsibility. Landlord requirements vary from state to state, but anything related to plumbing, heat and electricity is always up to them.

Regardless of where you are, here's what you should be thinking about doing if something's broken in your apartment:

Formally request a fix: Take lots of photos, request a repair in writing and wait for your landlord to respond and fix the problem. You might need to wait anywhere from a day to a month depending on where you live.

Leave without notice: The tricky thing here is getting your security deposit back, since if you're doing this you're probably dealing with an unresponsive landlord. But if you want to stop paying rent and leave on your own schedule you'd have the legal right as long as the problem is definitely your landlord's responsibility. You can't do this unless you requested the repair in writing and carefully documented it.

Withhold rent until it gets fixed: Depending on where you live you might be able to simply stop paying rent until they fix it. You may need to put the rent money into an escrow account and you will definitely need to carefully document the problem everything you do, since a nasty landlord may very well sue or evict you if you try this.

Repair yourself and pay less rent: The legal term for this is "repair and deduct." Hire someone to fix it, and subtract the cost from your next payment. If you're allowed to do this in your state you will probably only be able to do it if the repair costs less than one month of rent to fix.

Sue your landlord for damages: Suing your landlord in small claims court is actually pretty easy to do in some cities and states, and once they get notice that you've filed a suit it may rouse them to action. If you withhold rent then they might evict you and you'd end up in court anyways, so it's a good idea to be prepared for this eventuality.

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