- Read your lease
and locate the clause concerning repairs and maintenance. The lease will state
what responsibilities, if any, the landlord will assume concerning repairs
and maintenance. Not all leases require that the landlord make ordinary repairs.
Most leases containing repair clauses require that the following steps be
taken to get repairs made:
- Give your
manager a written
notice (a work order filled out by the management is not sufficient)
requesting that repairs be made. Make a duplicate copy, and have the manager
sign both copies. Be sure to keep a copy for your files. If the manager
refuses to sign the request for repairs, send the notice by certified
mail, return receipt requested. This costs about $4 at any post office
and includes a returned receipt showing the manager received the notice.
- Wait a reasonable
time. Reasonable time depends on the nature of the repair. A clogged toilet
would necessitate repair more quickly than a broken dishwasher knob. Repairs
requested at peak move-in times will require more time than at other periods
of the semester. Holidays should also be considered when defining reasonable
time. On the average, reasonable time can be interpreted as three to four
days to a week if regular maintenance personnel can do the work.
- Submit a
second written notice if repairs have not been made within a reasonable
time. Again, have the manager sign both copies and keep a dated copy for
your files. In your second written notice, indicate your intent to terminate
the contract unless repairs are completed within one week. (This time
period may vary from lease to lease.)
- If the management
refuses to make repairs, you should consult with an attorney
to determine your legal rights. You may have the right to sue the landlord,
to withhold repair costs from the rent, or to move and terminate the lease;
but these rights do not apply in every situation. An attorney
can help you determine your rights and your best option.
- For all leases
in Texas, state law imposes a duty on the landlord that the apartment or house
will be habitable. This means that the landlord or his/her agent must repair
any conditions that materially affect the safety or health of an ordinary
tenant. Examples of such conditions might include sizable roof or other water
leaks, structural defects that impose a danger to your safety, or serious
electrical hazards. The law provides a procedure similar to that described
above for requesting repairs and gives a tenant specific remedies against
the landlord if repairs are not made. These remedies include suing the landlord,
withholding repair costs from rent, and terminating the lease, but all of
these may not apply in every situation. It is very important that you seek legal advice before attempting to exercise any of these options.
- If your lease
does not require the landlord to make repairs, you might attempt to negotiate
terms for repairs. This is often difficult after the lease is signed. If the
landlord is not responsible for repairs, you cannot terminate your lease if
repairs are not made. Sample forms for requesting repairs appear above.