Right To Minor Repairs as a Tenant
Landlords must keep your rental unit in a livable condition under the implied warranty of habitability, but, this warranty will not cover many other problems you may experience with your rental unit. For example, a leaky faucet or unsightly marks on a wall are not problems that need to be fixed in order for you to live in the apartment. Also, if the damage is your fault, you will likely have to pay for the repairs.
Do I Have any Right to Minor Repairs?
Whether or not your landlord will be required to perform minor repairs will depend on a number of factors. One is the nature of the problem. Your landlord usually will not be required to perform purely cosmetic repairs, such as replacing a worn carpet. But, if the carpet has large holes in it that you could trip on, your landlord likely will have to replace it. Other factors that bear on whether your landlord must perform the repair include:
- Your state's landlord-tenant laws
- State or local building codes
- Is the problem covered in the lease
- Whether your landlord has made any written or oral promises to make repairs
How Do I Enforce My Right to Make Minor Repairs?
If your unit is uninhabitable, you are allowed to withhold rent, but if you attempted to do this for minor repairs you could be evicted. Because of this, it is harder to enforce your right to minor repairs. Below are some steps you can take that will increase the odds that your landlord will perform the repairs:
- Give your landlord a written request - by making your request in writing, you are able to spell out the problem in more detail. You also give the landlord time to think over whether or not to perform the repair because s/he does not have to respond immediately. In your written request, try to point out how the problem could become more severe.
- Propose mediation - if your landlord refuses your oral and written requests, propose that you go to a mediator to help you resolve the issue.
- Report your landlord to your local building/housing agency - your minor problem may be a violation of local building codes, so you should contact your local building/housing agency to find out. If it is, report your landlord. You should note that this may not help your relationship with your landlord.
- Bring a case against your landlord in small claims court - if you are able to show that the value of your unit decreased due to the problem your landlord refused to repair, you may be able to get the difference in value and the rent you paid. Again, this will not help your relationship with your landlord, but it may be your only option.
I'm Having Trouble with Getting My Landlord to Perform Repairs, Do I Need a Lawyer?
While you are not generally allowed to have a lawyer in small claims court, an experienced real estate lawyer can help you determine whether your landlord had a duty to repair the problem(s) in your unit. A lawyer with experience in real estate law can also help you file your small claims case.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 09-07-2011 04:02 PM PDT