What Can I Do When My Landlord Won't Make Repairs

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Read this in: Spanish / Español



Examples Of Common Warranty Of Habitability Problems Include:

  • Missing or inoperable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 

  • Plumbing deficiencies 

  • Electrical Problems 

  • Lack of required and functionable utilities or appliances

  • Inadequate or inoperable permanent heating i.e. lack of heat

  • Insufficient ventilation i.e. bathrooms/kitchens

  • Missing or broken vent screens 

  • Rodent, pest, or other infestations

  • Cockroach and bed-bug infestations 

  • Inadequate weather proofing 

  • Noncompliant security bars over windows

  • Broken locks and keyed exit doors 

  • Deficient and non-compliant handrails 

  • Sewer on the surface of the ground

  • Collapsing ceiling/structure/foundation

Health And Legal Issues That A Person Might Face Because Of Poor Living Conditions

  • Bad air quality,

  • Dampness or mold,

  • Pests, e.g. rodents, bed-bugs, termites, 

  • Asthma,

  • Lead poisoning,

  • Poor water and sewage,

  • Environmental waste,

  • Or other health and safety issues.

Summary Of Options When You Have a Repair Problem

Identify the types of repairs necessary and ask if the problems make the property uninhabitable. 

Repair And Deduct Process

What Is Repair And Deduct?

  • Repair and deduct is a legal process that allows you to notify your landlord that you need repairs to your home. If the landlord does not make the repairs you can make them yourself. You can then demand reimbursement or take the costs out of the next month's rent.

  • Repairs must be necessary to use the repair and deduct process.

Warnings About Repair And Deduct

Repair and Deduct Steps

✅ To see if you qualify for this process under the law, and to complete all of the required letters, use our free app.

When a written lease exists, review your lease:

  • Check to see if there is any waiver.

  • Check to see if the lease says the tenant should expect to fix any types of repairs.

  • Check to determine the date the lease began and when it expires.

  • Check to see if there is any type of notice you must give to communicate property issues with the landlord. If your lease has a type of specific method or procedure to report problems, then you must comply.

Identify the types of repairs needed and determine the repair need

  • Draft your letter.

    • Give your landlord notice about the problem and the need for necessary repairs.

    • All requests to repair a part of the property maintained by the landlord must be in writing.

  • Give your letter to the landlord.

    • You can send your letter by mail, email, text-message, or deliver the letter in-person.

    • If your lease gives you a method of notice you must follow those guidelines to send your notice and demand.

  • A tenant should keep a record of all maintenance and repair problems. Keep a copy of all types of communications, receipts, or other information.

  • After you send your letter, wait to hear from your landlord.

  • Allow your landlord to access the property to make the repair. A landlord does not need to give you notice to enter and make a repair.

  • Continue to document the repair issue if things change while you are waiting.

  • Document any communication with your landlord if your landlord replies to your letter. Your landlord may also not respond at all.

  • A tenant should not withhold any rent to force the landlord to make a repair. Any tenant who withholds rent may be subject to eviction for nonpayment of rent.

  • A tenant can generally make a repair themself if they choose. This is not recommended unless you have professional experience to fix the repair. e.g. A tenant who is a plumber who fixes a leaky pipe in their home
  • Look for a professional or qualified person in the line of work needed to make your specific repair. You can use a google search for a repair professional or handyman in your area.
  • Look at the costs of the repair or the repair estimate. You cannot use repair and deduct to make repairs that are more than your price of rent. e.g. If your rent is $1000, then you cannot demand reimbursement or fix repairs for an amount that is more than $1000.
  • Find a qualified professional to give a real and accurate estimate for the costs of the repair. The price to pay for the repair must be reasonable. You need to show payment, billing, bank statements, or receipt of payment for expenses.

  • A tenant can fix the repair themselves only after the landlord failed to fix the repair. The landlord must fail to fix the repair in a reasonable time based on the type of repair. The landlord may also refuse to fix the repair at all. 

  • A tenant should not begin or make a repair if they have not allowed a reasonable time to pass. The landlord has a reasonable time to respond and fix the problem. Emergencies may shorten the timeline the landlord has to make the repair. 

  • Take pictures and/or video of the property condition before and after the repair.

  • Gather any documentation to show proof of the work done, the length of time it took, the costs, and extent of damages.

  • Gather any documentation of the recommendations or professional opinions about the repair.

  • Gather any reports about the work done and completed to make the repair.

  • When the tenant completes the repair, then:
    • A tenant can demand immediate reimbursement, OR

    • Deduct costs of the repair to future rent. You cannot deduct the costs of the repair to past-due rent.

  • Draft a second demand letter to your landlord

    • In-writing,

    • Demands immediate reimbursement for the costs to repair OR,

    • Notifies the landlord the tenant is using repair and deduct procedure to deduct for a repair. The tenant can deduct the reasonable expenses from the cost of future-rent due.

    • Attach all proof or other evidence including payment or receipts to show the price paid.

    • Include any other documentation, proof of communication, or other proof about the repair.

  • You are not likely to get evicted for nonpayment of rent if your landlord accepts the rent you pay. Your landlord may accept the partial payment including deducted repair costs. Make sure that you send notice by letter and proof of the cost of repairs when you pay your rent in this case. Be sure to pay your rent on-time.
  • Your landlord may send you a reimbursement for costs if you demanded one in your letter. If your landlord refuses to reimburse you, then you can find out if you can take legal action in small claims court.

  • In some cases, landlords may still try to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent. If you continue to keep your documentation and record your information, then you can use it as proof. The repair and deduct process is a defense to eviction. By following the procedure, continuing to pay rent, keeping your records you get proof to use in court. A tenant only needs to gather their evidence and documentation if they get evicted and must go to court.

Other Options If Repairs Aren't Made

Lease cancellation

Report To Code Enforcement

Last Review and Update: Oct 18, 2022
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