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How to Deal With a Reluctant Landlord

Not everybody can afford to purchase a home, especially when economic times are in a downturn. Fortunately, there is an expansive rental market available for people to find suitable housing in an area of their choice.

While the home rental market usually remains strong in both poor and good economic times, there are drawbacks to renting that surface from time to time. One of these drawbacks is dealing with a landlord that ignores repeated requests to repair damage to a property in violation of a lease agreement.

Repairs Made in Reasonable Time

Without a doubt, the most frustrating issue many renters face is when a major appliance or an important feature of the home or rental unit they occupy fails to operate or is no longer functioning properly. Broken appliances or a leaking roof can make an otherwise enjoyable habitat very difficult to live in, especially if the landlord does not respond to requests to remedy the situation. Fortunately, there are remedies available to renters to assist them in rectifying the situation when a landlord refuses to act in accordance with their responsibilities.

Issue Severity Determines Response

It is important to note that there are various degrees of seriousness that must be considered when it comes to dealing with a repair issue. A broken light switch in the hall closet is not a situation that merits a trip to the small claims court. It is important that the issue with the habitat is a serious problem that impacts the livability of the space and must be grave enough to affect the health and safety of the inhabitants.

Annoying issues such as a stove burner that will not ignite does not constitute such an issue, but a stove burner that constantly leaks gas, does. Prior to initiating any action against a reluctant landlord, it is important to determine the severity of the issue and then act accordingly.

Documentation of Notification is Vital

Most lease agreements dictate which circumstances that affect the property are the responsibility of the landlord and the tenant respectively. If a situation arises that is not a major issue, documenting communication with the landlord requesting repairs is essential to any future action that might need to be taken. It is important to understand that this is a process of trying to resolve a problem and not a war with the landlord.


There are several large-scale remedies available to renters if the problem is dire enough. These remedies include notifying the proper inspection authorities, repairing the problem and deducting the cost from the rent, withholding rent, suing the landlord, or simply vacating the property and breaking the lease agreement.

Don’t Violate Terms of Your Lease

Prior to taking one of these paths toward rectifying the issue, it is important to make sure that the issue is not something that was not caused by you or a guest of yours. You also must be able to show that you followed all legal procedures required by your state regarding landlord notification, and you cannot be behind on your rent at the time the issue occurred.

You must be in full compliance with your lease agreement prior to initiating one of the above options in order to maintain the legal authority to support your actions. Prior to initiating any of the large-scale remedies available to you, it is important to fully understand all of the local and state laws to make sure that whichever option you select falls within the legal remedies allowed to you by local laws.