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How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix Something?

Some states clearly define the number of days that your landlord has to make repairs after you request them, while others leave it up to your judgement.

You are required to give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix any repairs that you bring to their attention. The definition of reasonable varies widely across states. For example, in Texas, you have to give your landlord seven days to make a repair. In Massachusetts, they're required to start fixing the problem within five days. In New York, there's no explicit definition of reasonable time frames for repairs so you need to use your own judgement and imagine how a judge would look at the situation if the case ever went to court. In other cases, thirty days is considered a reasonable time frame.

The definition of the word reasonable usually varies based on how much of an emergency your situation is. If you don’t have access to running water or heat, a court would most likely rule that your landlord should address it immediately. If the issue is smaller and clearly doesn't have short-term consequences for your health and safety, then you would be expected to offer a bit more time for it to be fixed.

Once reasonable time has passed without a repair you have a few different options: fix it yourself and take that out of the rent, stop paying rent entirely (this doesn't work everywhere, leave right away using a legal concept called constructive eviction or sue your landlord for damages.

In any of these situations you'll need to prove that the problem is real and violating the warranty of habitability, and you'll always be in a better spot if you go the extra mile by calling a housing inspector and having them check out the issue.

Next Steps

Having trouble deciding which route you want to take? Start by finding a tenant. At that point you can decide - with your tenant and also with your landlord - if it makes more sense to break, sublet or assign your lease.

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