One of the landlord’s core responsibilities is to ensure that their rental unit is fit for habitation — and that means they’re required to make essential repairs on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for the landlord to fail to make necessary repairs even after the tenant has brought them to their attention. If your landlord fails to take action despite your formal request for repairs, you should consider taking stronger measures. In this case, your options may include any of the following:
Reporting code violations to housing inspectors
If the problem your rental unit is facing has something to do with state or local housing law, you should report the matter to the agency responsible for enforcing the law. This may be the health department, fire, building or housing department.
The inspector will visit the property and carry out an inspection in order to compile a violation report. The landlord will then be served with a notice and given a deadline to fix the problem. The landlord’s failure to carry out the repairs as directed might result in a fine or even imprisonment.
Withholding rent until the repairs are made
One of the most common ways of getting the landlord to make repairs in the rental unit is to stop paying rent until they make the repairs. This is known as “rent withholding,” as long as you do it properly (and legally).
As a tenant, you have the right to withhold rent because your landlord has a duty to provide a safe and habitable rental unit under the warranty of habitability. If the landlord fails to meet their end of the deal, the tenant’s obligation to pay rent stops until such repairs are made. However, if you are going to withhold rent, it is important that you do it in accordance with the law.
Every landlord has a legal duty to ensure that the rental unit meets the required standards. A tenant has a right to take action if their landlord fails to honor their responsibility.