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Lesson 3: How should renters deal with a rental safety issue?
If there is an issue that makes a rental home unsafe to live in, it could mean the Warranty of Habitability law was broken. Learn more about who is responsible for fixing a rental safety issue. The renter should tell their landlord as soon as possible so that the landlord is aware of the issue. Renters have to tell their landlord about the issue in writing and should include details and evidence like photos if they can. Renters should make sure to save a copy of the letter and evidence, as it might be useful if they have to go to court and prove that the landlord knew about the issue.
In the letter to their landlord, renters should include:
- The date the renter is sending the letter
- Renter’s name
- Renter’s address and unit number
- Landlord’s name
- Landlord’s address
- Detailed description of the issue
- Any evidence like photos, if possible
- Permission to the landlord or worker to go into the unit and fix the issue
- Renter’s signature
- Date of signature
Landlords can require in the lease that renters communicate with them in a specific way. They may ask renters to use a website, online “portal”, email, or text message.
- 1.Check the lease. If a lease says renters must communicate in a specific way, you should use that method.
- 2.If the landlord does not specify in the lease, you should communicate the way you have in the past.
- 3.If you have not communicated with your landlord in the past, you can send your letter
- In an e-mail
- With certified mail or USPS first class
- Hand-deliver the letter to the landlord or property manager's business office
If the issue is an emergency that puts a renter’s life in danger (like a gas leak), the renter can request to temporarily move to another unit or a hotel room paid for by the landlord. The renter should send their landlord a letter as soon as possible, telling them about the issue and requesting another unit or hotel room. It’s important that the renter tell their landlord about the issue in writing and include details and evidence like photos. Renters should make sure to save a copy of the letter and evidence, as it might be useful if they have to go to court and prove that the landlord knew about the issue.
The landlord can choose the new unit or hotel room, but it must be comparable to the renters’ current unit. The landlord is responsible for the cost of the other unit or hotel room, but renters are still responsible for paying their normal rent.
Emergency issues also change when the landlord is required to respond and fix the issue. After a landlord has received a written (email, letter, or text) notice about an issue, there is a strict timeline they need to follow. For an emergency issue, the landlord must respond to the renter and start fixing the issue within 24 hours.
Sometimes when a landlord fixes an issue, it can be a temporary fix. The issue may come back and cause problems again. If a landlord has already fixed a Warranty of Habitability issue, and the issue is causing problems for the renter again, renters might be able to end their lease early and move out or take legal action. Learn more in Lesson 9.