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Are you a good tenant who's been trying with no avail to get your landlord to make repairs? Maybe you've been a long-term tenant in addition to being one who pays rent on time, each month yet your landlord completely ignores you when you ask for repairs to your rental. Sometimes we will admit that certain problems can be let go for a while and will result in only a minor annoyance however, when the repairs constitute a 'material health and safety' issue, it's a different ballgame entirely and it should be taken up. In this article, we're going to give you some examples of slumlord behavior and some ideas that will get results for you. We don't think that you should ever have to go to this extreme to get  your landlord to make reasonable repairs to the unit that you pay good hard earned money for but let's face it, most of the time getting a landlord to do something that requires spending money is like pulling teeth. They just don't care to do it and they won't do it unless you go through the proper channels or at least let them know of your intention to access these channels for compliance.

First of all, determine the problems needing repairs or attention in your rental unit--and they need to be things that constitute material health and safety. This means that it has to be hazardous to your health or a danger to your safety if not repaired. This would include things such as a leak in the roof that's resulted in the growth of mold which could result in health problems or a non working heater, broken pipe or other necessary component of your unit. Once you've noted all of the problems in need of repair (they often pile up because these slumlords you're dealing with don't like to repair anything and when or if they do, it's usually done minimally rather than correctly) you should go through your list and determine which ones may have been caused by you meaning these problems are your own fault and the ones that have been caused by normal wear and tear or plain and simple neglect on the part of the landlord. This is the group of problems that you will want to take to your landlord and request repairs.

You might first try a simple verbal request if you are on speaking terms with your landlord. If you don't get what you want there, move to written notices delivered by certified mail. Check your state's laws to find out which ones you may apply in your written notice. They are usually straight forward so all you need to do is read it, understand it and then apply it to your situation. NOTE: If you ask for any repairs and your landlord makes a threat to evict you or raise your rent or acts in such manner, this is considered retaliatory and in most states, this is highly illegal. This is something that could offer you protection in the future if you can pick up on it early and later prove it. Landlords are not allowed to bully you around or force you to live in sub standard hazardous housing!

When you compose a written notice to your landlord, it should be just the facts. This means it should start with a listing of problems that are noted as "material health and safety concerns" in accordance with your state's laws and a simple request for repairs. The notice should be dated, signed and delivered via signature certified mail to your landlord's address where you pay rent. Keep in mind while writing this that you will need to retain a copy of it for later use should you need to take your landlord to court. Compose it in such a way so that a judge will understand that there actually is an existing problem that's a violation of your state's laws rather than just a landlord tenant gripe because your landlord will more than likely have their own version of the story.

You don't have to actually include photos with your written notice to the landlord however, it's a great idea to take lots of dated, time stamped photos and videos throughout the process of complaining and asking for repairs so that you have a visual aid for a judge if you do go to court. Additionally, I find it useful to set up a basic video camera in the house if I know that the landlord will be stopping by for a visit. Some landlords have the mentality that they have every right to come to your house because they own it and you rent it, and harass you verbally, threaten you, etc. whenever you request repairs causing them to have to spend money. This is illegal and if you can catch them in the act, you do not have to tell them they are being videoed in most cases. (Check Nanny Cam Laws in your state for more information on this.) The name of this tactic is to video them in the act if they are a particularly nasty slumlord, let them lie to a judge and then play it back in court after they've already perjured themselves or at the very least, use it to blackmail them into making repairs without issue.

In most cases, landlords don't like to go to court, especially if they know they're in the wrong and that you have evidence against them however, in the instance that you do end up taking a landlord to court for negligence on repairs involving material health and safety issues, the best way to accomplish the goal is to request that the court set up an ESCROW account for you to pay rent into. This means that the court manages the account and the landlord just gets legally screwed out of their rent money until the court decides that they have met the repair requirements outlined by the judge. It's simple, no repairs, no rent. Additionally, if the situation is particularly bad and has involved the landlord consistently ignoring the issue at hand, you might request that a judge allow you to break your lease if you have some other place to go OR you can ask that a judge return a portion of the paid rent to you for your trouble of having to live in such a place. After all, when you signed the lease, you were under the impression that you would be able to use the whole apartment for the price and everything in it.

If you are working from a retaliatory action angle, your landlord needs to have threatened you with increased rent, decreased services, eviction or some other type of action directly because you've requested services that you believe you are entitled to. This would include anything in your lease that's outlined as the landlord's responsibility OR anything under applicable state laws.  This is particularly difficult to prove UNLESS you are able to have direct witnesses or video footage of your landlord engaging in the activity. This evidence will take time to collect but I assure you, it can be done. Most digital cameras have a video setting if you don't have an actual video camera. You can also rig up a web cam with little effort. You can even use a web cam to monitor your apartment while you're out--this could result in catching your landlord engaged in an illegal entry which is also highly illegal but hard to prove.  Put the camera in a spot preferably where you have a good vantage point of the door. This is where your landlord will most likely enter or stand while he or she engages in retaliatory conduct. Make sure that the camera is in a position to pick up reasonably quality audio and video--although audio is more important in some cases. Never let your landlord see the camera or get near it. Do not indicate that it's even there if you want to catch them in the act.

Please check back later for an additional article on rental surveillance.