How to Deal With an Uncooperative Landlord
Imagine you moved into your first apartment after college, and you were thrilled about finally having your own place. What you didn’t count on was the family of mice that would also make a home in your cozy space. Despite living with rodent roommates for more than six months, your landlord didn’t seem to care much about helping you resolve the situation. Needless to say, the second your lease was up, you decided to bid those furry “friends” adieu.
If you’re new to renting an apartment or house, you may not think about issues like this. But, it’s important to know how you can help protect your rights and your personal belongings from the pitfalls of an uncooperative landlord. Here are some things to consider.
Once you sign a lease, your landlord may request a security deposit to help cover any damages made when you’re renting. While this amount is often equal to your first month’s rent, your state may have legal limits to what you can be charged, notes Apartment Therapy. If your deposit amount seems high, read through your state’s tenant laws to help make sure you aren’t being scammed. Also, take care to document all scratches, scuffs and stains present on move-in day, says Trulia. The last thing you want is to be charged for damage that wasn’t your fault.
Most state and local laws require landlords to maintain a safe living environment for their tenants, including taking care of certain repairs, notes Trulia. It can be annoying when your landlord ignores requests for small repairs or is slow to recognize there’s a problem. However, in most cases you cannot withhold rent when minor issues aren’t fixed, says Trulia. If initial attempts to get your landlord’s attention don’t succeed, try these steps from Trulia to address the issue:
- Write it down: A written request given to your landlord can be a great reminder and provides an opportunity for you to give a detailed description of the problem(s) you’re having.
- Emphasize that the issue might get worse: Explain to your landlord that a leaky faucet could turn the sink into a full-on waterfall, or that the hole in your wooden steps could be the culprit if someone takes a spill. Be explicit about how problems like broken locks or burned-out lights could put you and other tenants at risk.
- Take action if written attempts are ignored: According to Trulia, there are different ways to proceed when your landlord just won’t listen. Consider mediation, where a trained mediator will meet with you and your landlord to discuss the situation and help you come to a compromise about fixing the issue.
Even if your relationship with your landlord is a little shaky, educating yourself on your rights as a renter may help you better understand how to deal with an uncooperative landlord.
Originally published on October 19, 2011.