Know Your Rights: How to Get What You Pay for with Your Landlord


Whenever you move into a new apartment or another rental unit, you will go in with the expectation that the landlord will take care of their responsibilities. While you will promise to pay rent and care for the unit, the landlord is often required to pay for maintenance and make sure the home is safe and maintained. If the landlord is not abiding by their responsibilities, there are several things that you should do.

Contact the Landlord

If the landlord is not doing something right or responding to your reasonable requests, the first thing that you should do would be to contact the landlord immediately. Ideally, you should contact the landlord by email so you will have a record of your attempts to contact. You should also reference prior emails and calls to make sure that all parties are aware of your past attempts.

Make Repairs Yourself

If you are not able to get in touch with the landlord, you could also try to make the repairs yourself. For example, if an appliance is not working, it is not reasonable that you would have to live without the appliance. If the landlord is not responding, the next thing you should do is hire someone else to make the repairs. If it is not too expensive, you should have the repairs made and then reduce your rent payment by the amount of the repair while providing evidence of payment.

Use an Attorney

If the repairs are more significant, hiring a civil litigation lawyer to represent you could be the best option that you have. The attorney will be able to reach out to the landlord, and possibly the landlord’s representatives, to notify them of landlord default. The attorney could then write down a formal list of requests and also notify the landlord that you intend to restrict rent or cancel the lease if repairs are not made.

Restrict Rent

The most drastic thing that you could do overall would be to restrict rent entirely. Most lease agreements and local laws prevent you from being able to do this. However, if the landlord is not being responsive or diligent, you have the right to stop paying rent until the work is done. You should get further guidance about this from your attorney before taking any additional steps.

When your landlord is not doing the right thing, it can be very frustrating. However, it is important that you are able to remain calm when dealing with the landlord and that you follow the proper channels.