If you’re renting an apartment as a college student, you likely are aware of the importance of having a good landlord. Knowing that someone will be responsive when your sink starts to leak or your radiators begin hissing loudly can bring peace of mind and enable you to focus on your studies. But what if your landlord is refusing to make repairs?
Tenant rights vary from state to state, but in general landlords are required to ensure that your apartment is “habitable.” That means that it needs to be a safe and decent place to live. If you’re going to take action, the problem you’re dealing will need to be a serious concern and not just an annoyance.
If you experience any problems in your apartment, you should notify your landlord immediately. If you’ve called him or her on the phone, it may be a good idea to also send an email so you have a record of your request in writing in case there are any issues.
If your landlord refuses to make the repair, the next step is to call a housing or building inspector. Do not be afraid that your landlord will evict you for taking action – it is illegal for him or her to do so. Just make sure you are up-to-date on all of your rent payments and that you did not cause the problem through carelessness or neglect.
If you’re still nervous about contacting a home inspector, you have the option to inform your landlord that you plan to find someone to fix the problem and will deduct it from your rent. Make sure you keep your receipts and attach copies of them along with a letter detailing the repairs the next time you pay rent.
If all else fails, you can opt to withhold rent from your landlord until the repairs are made. Although this is an extreme action and should only be taken when all else has failed, it may be your only option if your safety is being compromised. Just make sure you have kept a paper trail of all the attempts at contact that you have made.