What to do when there are problems in your rental

What to do when there are problems in your rental

Leaky sinks, appliances that stop working, a mouse in the kitchen, or broken light fixtures are just a few of the myriad of things that can go wrong in our homes. While homeowners have the ability to fix these problems themselves, renters are at the mercy of their landlords when it comes to issues around the house.

In a perfect world, the landlord will immediately come assess the issue, come up with a solution, and hire an expert to fix the problem. The unfortunate truth is that things rarely go this quickly or efficiently. If you’re having problems in your rental, the following five tips can help you when addressing issues with your landlord or leasing company.

  1. Review your rental agreement

Before moving in you signed a rental agreement; while many renters scan over the fine print, it will detail what is and isn’t the responsibility of the landlord to fix. Make sure you understand what is stated in your lease agreement before contacting the landlord.

  1. Put it in writing

Requests and complaints should always be put into writing. Dealing with a persistent problem? Consider sending a letter by certified mail. This ensures the complaint cannot be “lost,”as well as gets their attention.

“If there is a complaint book in the building, that’s a good start, but writing a letter to the super or to the managing agent and copying the other makes it official and will get a better response,” said real estate attorney Steven Wagner.

Check your leasing agreement to see if it lists a preferred method of communication for your landlord. Whether you drop off a note or send an email, keep a record of any communications you send – as well as their response. This can work to your benefit in the event of a legal dispute down the road.

  1. Tip the super

Does your building or rental have a superintendent? Giving them an extra tip might help you move to the front of the line. Likewise, a tip might help you get better service; if your fridge breaks you may get a new one instead of a castoff from the basement.

  1. Work with your neighbors

If the problem is building wide, work with your neighbors to get the issue resolved.

“It’s always better to deal with repair issues as a group. I cannot emphasize that enough,” says Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer who represents tenants and tenant associations. “You’re so much stronger, it’s easier to afford legal representation, and it allows you to document things because you have eyes and ears all over the building.”

  1. Do it yourself

Some states allow tenants to do work themselves when repeated requests to the landlord have been made. Begin by getting an estimate for the repairs and sending it to the landlord; if they reject this – or continue to not respond – pay for it yourself and deduct the costs from your rent. Review your state’s legal status for renters and landlords before doing work or hiring a contractor.

Comments are closed.