How to Deal With Your Unresponsive, MIA Landlord

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Let’s all try to get along with our landlords. It ain’t always easy, but it makes the world a better place to live—and rent. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our toilet explodes and our landlord is on vacation. If you’re having trouble getting your property manager to respond to your (reasonable, not crazy) needs, make sure you’ve covered all your bases:

1. Make sure you’re contacting him per your lease agreement.

Some rental contracts require that you make repair request in writing, for example, in which case you’d have less cause to complain if you’re leaving your landlord phone messages.

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2. Check your lease in general, and your state laws.

How long does your landlord have, legally, to respond? If you need a repair and he fails to follow up within the allowed time frame, you may be able to deduct the cost of a private repairman from your rent. Obviously, you should keep the receipts.

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3. Call the city inspectors

If you have a serious health or safety problem and cannot get support from your landlord, go to the proper authorities. His laxness shouldn’t be on your head.

4. Keep a record of all your correspondence, with dates.

This can be especially easy to keep track of over email. If you’re deducting repairs from rent, you need to be able to prove that your landlord, not you, was at fault. If things continue to deteriorate and you decide, for example, not to pay rent, or have a dispute over your security deposit, you’ll need as much documentation as possible to prove your point in Small Claims Court.

5. In some places, you can sue your landlord in Housing Court.

For karma’s sake, if nothing else, we recommend you do this only in the most extreme cases. Talk to a tenant’s lawyer or consult the local rental housing board about your legal options.

6. Keep your cool.

You vastly improve your chances of getting that window repaired, and avoiding serious blood pressure issues, by remaining civil throughout these trying times.

Have you dealt with an unresponsive landlord? Share your experience, and tell us how you dealt with it, here or on Facebook!

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