Real Estate Law: What if My Landlord Refuses to Make Repairs?
Renting a property can allow you to enjoy many benefits, such as living in a nice home without committing to buying it, or being able to move quickly for a job or other personal needs. Yet renting a property also comes with some risks –among them is the chance that you have to deal with things breaking down and your landlord not fixing them quickly enough.
You might have a roach problem, or the toilet might keep backing up, and you’ve notified your landlord again and again with no response. What do you do? Here’s what a real estate attorney in Gilbert would likely tell you about your options:
Make a Written Report
You might see your landlord in the breezeway of your apartment complex and mention that the sink is leaking, but that’s going to be hard to prove in court. Instead, you need to give your landlord a written report of the problem and include dates and other concrete details. For example, you might say that you first noticed mold on one date, and then you noticed mold in a separate area on another date.
Make your written report by email or by postal mail, which is easier to confirm than a text message. If you do send the report by mail, make sure you send it with delivery confirmation and require a signature. Continue to make written reports of the problems you are experiencing, even if the landlord is not responding. You are going to need those reports to show a paper trail of trying to correct the problem and not getting a response.
Take Pictures and Video
Your written reports will go far, but photographic evidence will have even more of an impact if your case needs to go to court or some other governing body. Take photos or video of what you see. If you have a pest problem, video would likely be best.
Take photos or video on your phone or on another device that allows you to include a timestamp. Then send these to your landlord, but also retain copies for yourself.
Contact Local Code Enforcement
Some problems that you are experiencing might be a violation of local code, such as exposed wiring or shoddy floors. If you aren’t getting any response from your landlord, or if your landlord hasn’t taken the appropriate action to fix the problem, report the issue to your local code enforcement agency.
If the agency determines that the issue is in its purview, a technician will likely come out to your property to inspect it. If your complaint has merit, the agency will typically give the landlord a timeline for correcting the problem. If the landlord does not comply, the agency may take him or her to court. You may be satisfied at this point, or you may decide to take the landlord to court later. If you do, you can use the information from the code enforcement agency to bolster your case.
Keep Paying Rent
You may feel like you shouldn’t have to pay rent when the living conditions of the property are not up to the standard you saw when you first signed the lease. However, the landlord may be able to take legal action against you if you don’t pay the rent. Keep paying the rent while the issue is resolved to protect yourself from legal action and fines.
Decide on the Outcome You Want
Before you continue, decide what you want to happen. Do you just want the landlord to make the repairs? Or do you want the landlord to compensate you for the time and aggravation you’ve suffered as a result of this problem? If you or your family have suffered health problems or been injured because of the issue, you might also want compensation for that.
Determining what outcome you would like will help you decide if you should contact local agencies or a real estate attorney.
Contact an Attorney
Even after reporting your landlord to local enforcement agencies, you still might not get results. Or you may have gotten the problem fixed, but you may think that you are still entitled to other compensation, such as for injuries or time lost from work. You need to contact a Gilbert real estate attorney to explore your options. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement with your landlord or may sue them in court.
The real estate attorneys at Denton Peterson in Arizona can help you understand your legal options if you are struggling with a landlord who won’t make needed repairs to a property. We can help you report the landlord to the appropriate agencies, we can negotiate on your behalf, or we can build a case to take to court. We’ll help you determine the fastest and most effective route to get the results you want. Call us today to talk to an experienced real estate attorney!