How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix a Problem?

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A tenant has a right to live in a home that is considered habitable and meets housing codes. One of the advantages of being a tenant is that the responsibility for keeping a rental until in that condition is the landlord's unless the tenant is the cause of the problem. If your landlord doesn't make the repairs in a reasonable amount of time, you have some options for recourse.

Repair Obligation

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A landlord is obligated to keep the housing unit in livable condition. Public areas, such as the lobby of an apartment building, must also be maintained. Some of the things a landlord is expected to maintain include: weather protection, hot and cold running water, connections to a sewage system, safe drinking water, smoke detectors, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, and working windows and locks, among others. The housing unit must also meet any local and state housing codes.

Standard Repairs

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In order for repairs to be made, the landlord must first be notified that a problem exists. Tenants generally inform a landlord when they make a rent payment. Technically, a landlord has 14 days to then make repairs, but if only verbal notification is made, the landlord can always say that he was never told of the problem. If your landlord is hesitant to make repairs, you should send a letter informing the landlord of the problem and that if repairs are not made within 14 days you will terminate your lease in 30 days.

For Emergency Repairs

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In some instances, the needed repairs can be considered an emergency situation, such as the loss of power, heat or water. If this is the case, you can tell your landlord that he only has three business days to make the repairs. You will also need to make yourself available to allow your landlord entrance into your housing unit; otherwise, the landlord can enter your apartment without you being present.

Retaliation

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Laws are also in place that protect tenants from retaliation from their landlords because tenants exercised their rights to have habitable living accommodations. Then tenant protection laws prohibit landlords from taking retaliatory actions against tenants, such as increasing the rent or attempting to evict you. The landlord can still take those actions if tenant has done something that qualifies as good cause, though.

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