On behalf of Law Office of Paul Mankin posted in blog on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.
Renting an apartment comes with many benefits, such as community amenities, no property taxes and free maintenance. However, what if your landlord does not make repairs? What are you supposed to do?
The law allows you to withhold rent, deduct the cost of DIY repairs or abandon an uninhabitable living space. However, you must meet the requirements and follow the procedure correctly. Any mistakes can work against you and cause your landlord to begin the eviction process for nonpayment. It is better to take the following steps first instead.
Gather evidence of the problem
First, you must prove that the issue exists. Take pictures of the problem, such as mold or bedbugs, and any damage it has caused to the property and residents. Include evidence of the negative effects it has had on your health. Examples include paperwork for medical treatment and the ensuing bills. You can use this proof to show your landlord the severity of the issue and to build a case against him or her if the repairs do not happen.
Document your maintenance requests
To back up your claim, you need to be able to show that you have asked your landlord to repair or replace whatever is causing the problem. Otherwise, your landlord can insist the blame lies with you for not notifying him or her. It is best to make a phone call and write a dated letter, which you should mail or deliver, and ask for a receipt of notification. Make sure that you are always respectful in your requests, too.
If your health or safety is at risk, report the violation to the local health department for it to open an investigation. It may only take getting a third party involved for your landlord to stop ignoring your requests and make your housing inhabitable.
Take legal action
If your landlord still refuses to provide you with the legal right to a clean and safe place, you can sue with the help of an attorney. A lawyer can also advise you on other remedies from the California Department of Consumer Affairs.