It's no joke when your landlord refuses to uphold his end of the lease agreement. It's especially frustrating when he won't make needed repairs to his own property. While it's short-sighted on the landlord's part, it means more to you -- this lackadaisical behavior impacts the quality of your life.
Ideally, you're reading this prior to signing a lease. You've completed your property search, but haven't quite signed on the dotted line just yet. If so, you have time to add addendums that favor you, such as how many days your landlord has to make repairs.
If you have signed a lease without asking for any special provisions, you may be kicking yourself. However, all is not lost. Read your lease over in order to remind yourself of your initial agreement. Begin by calling your landlord and politely asking for needed repairs. Follow any verbal requests with a letter restating the problem. If needed, remind your landlord of the agreement outlined in your lease (even if you did not add an addendum).
Create a written record of every time you contact the landlord, and take photos of the problem in question. If, within a reasonable time period, the landlord has not made repairs, find out more about your rights. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides a directory of tenant rights that has been organized by state.
Once you've learned your rights, contact your landlord again and provide him with the written laws for your state. If that doesn't motivate him to act, sue him in small claims court, using your contact record and photographs as evidence. A tenant who is not being treated fairly generally has the upper hand in court. The landlord -- who is simply in the business to make money -- does not want to be dragged to court. It is less expensive for him to make the needed repairs.
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