If your apartment isn’t getting hot water, the food in the refrigerator is melting, or the air conditioner is broken in the middle of July… time is of the essence. If you’ve ever nervously wondered, “How long does a landlord have to fix something?” then this is the post for you. Learn the best way to request repairs from your landlord (spoiler alert: it’s not via text message!) so that the repairs happen and you have the appropriate documentation to report them, break your lease, or even take legal action, if necessary.
What are the responsibilities of your landlord?
Or, how do you figure out what’s on YOU to fix? In general, your landlord should fix any issues that make your apartment uninhabitable. They should handle most issues related to heating, leaky ceilings or structural problems, big plumbing problems, electrical mishaps, broken appliances, and bug or rodent infestations. The exact laws vary depending on the city and state you live in, and you can learn specifics by reading your local rental codes and your lease.
Your landlord isn’t responsible for fixing minor problems – problems that don’t make your apartment uninhabitable – unless they specifically state they will on your lease. For example, your landlord doesn’t have to fix a dripping faucet, put together your IKEA bookshelf, or change your light bulbs!
How should you report problems and request repairs?
You should always request your repairs in writing, and this doesn’t mean text message. Ideally, you should send a letter via certified mail. Otherwise, sending an email will work. In case there are any issues, it’s important that there is a documented date on the request for repairs. Writing a letter or e-mail will also allow you to detail the problem thoroughly so there is no confusion between tenant and landlord.
Here’s a great sample letter to request apartment repairs. Of course, you will need to tweak the letter to make sense for your situation, but it is an excellent template to follow.
How long does your landlord have to fix the problem?
The worse the problem is, the quicker your landlord needs to respond. When you request your repair, give your landlord a reasonable timeframe to respond. If you have a toilet flooding into your living room or your heater is broken in the middle of a blizzard, it’s not unreasonable to expect the problem to be fixed within 24 to 48 hours. Your landlord has to have time to find a repairman or make the appropriate plans. If the problem isn’t something urgent, the law typically considers under 30 days a “reasonable” time period.
What can you do if your landlord doesn’t fix the problem?
You have a few options if your landlord isn’t making the repairs in a reasonable timeframe. One option is to call in a handyman to come fix things, and then deduct that bill from your rent. You could also make the repairs yourself, if you’re capable, and submit your costs to the landlord for reimbursement. If the apartment is completely uninhabitable and your landlord is simply not making the necessary fixes, you’ll probably want to report your bad landlord. You can also break your lease and find a new apartment altogether. However, you can only break your lease for extremely serious issues – breaking a lease over a leaky faucet could get you into trouble.
So, you’ve requested repairs, filed complaints, and all to no avail. Time to find a new apartment? Yeah, we think so too. Use ApartmentSearch.com to find your next apartment and after you sign your lease, you’ll get a $200 reward. Parting ways with your old apartment has never been more tempting!