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Repairs

  • 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.