One of the few perks you wanted when you decided to rent a home, rather than buying one, is that you get a landlord who has to do upkeep and make repairs. It takes a lot of work off of your plate. When a pipe bursts or an AC unit breaks down, you do not have to fix it or pay for it.
However, your landlord refuses to make timely repairs. You call. You text. You send emails. You even think about sending a physical letter -- just to get a record in writing, if nothing else. It never works. Your landlord makes excuses, puts the job off or just ignores you.
What can you do? The first step is to understand that you do have legal rights. That means you have options when your landlord violates them.
Six things you deserve
When you sign a lease, you have a right to expect the property to live up to certain standards. Things you deserve include:
- Proper heating and cooling systems
- Clean drinking water and hot water
- Basic plumbing and electrical systems that work safely
- No common pests, such as rats and bugs
- Locks on the windows and doors
- An apartment that meets all of the proper building codes
Now, some of these things may break down from time to time. That's expected. But your landlord must take action to get the space back into compliance. Negligence could make him or her liable for your injuries if you have to live in a dangerous apartment.
An example: Broken rails
For instance, perhaps your apartment is on the third floor. It has an exterior staircase going up to your door. There are rails on this staircase and the landings.
One day, one of the rails breaks. You are not home when it happens, but you see the damage and the rail lying on the ground below. You call it in to your landlord.
Due to the building codes, the staircase must have functional railings that are the proper height to keep people safe. The damage puts the apartment building in violation of those codes.
If your landlord refuses to fix the rail or ignores your calls, now you face significant danger any time you walk up to your apartment. So do your guests. If someone ever slips and falls to the ground below, he or she could suffer serious, life-changing injuries.
Your legal rights
When a dangerous condition causes you serious injuries and you think your landlord's negligence put you at risk and violated your rights, make sure you are well aware of the legal options you have. Everyone who pays for a residence deserves a safe space that is properly repaired and well-maintained.