Your landlord refuses to make repairs, and you’re sick of it. You’re also worried. Some of the issues create serious safety hazards in your apartment or rented home.
For instance, one of your railings on the stairs has come loose, and you worry about it giving way every time you go up or down the staircase. Outside, the exterior lighting has burned out on those stairs, and no one ever replaced the bulbs, so you can barely see when you get home after dark. In the kitchen, you can tell that some of the wiring is not up to code, and you constantly check the batteries in your smoke alarm because you live in fear of fire. At the same time, your smoke alarm looks very old and you’re not even sure if it’s up to code anymore.
You’ve asked nicely, but your landlord keeps telling you he’ll get to the repairs eventually. That day never comes. What can you do now?
1. Write out your requests and send them through the mail
By writing down your requests, you have proof of those requests if you end up in court after suffering a serious injury. Make copies of the letters or take pictures. You can also send written messages via email or text, which is helpful since they automatically get timestamps and dates. This helps prove that your landlord acted negligently and ignored requests before the injury.
2. Threaten to take serious action
If your complaints keep getting ignored, mention that you’re going to take action. Maybe you’re going to call a lawyer or report the violations to the city. Perhaps you’re going to leave negative reviews and spread information about the safety issues. Show your landlord that you’re serious.
3. Take pictures and then refuse to pay rent
If you face a serious health hazard, you can usually withhold rent lawfully until the repairs get made. You do want the pictures to back up your case, though. Your landlord may threaten to take you to court or evict you, but those pictures can provide a safety net when it’s clear that you would win that case.
4. Threaten to make your own repairs
Stress that you do not know the first thing about home repair and tell your landlord that you’re going to have to do it yourself. Again, do this with photos in hand. Typically, a landlord does not want a tenant to work on the property at all, for fear of lowering the property value with amateur repairs.
After an injury
If all of this fails and you do suffer an injury, make sure you are well aware of the legal options you have. You must take landlord negligence seriously, especially when it leads to a serious injury or worse. If you have been harmed because of negligence, discuss your legal options with an experienced premises liability attorney.