If you’ve identified a problem in your apartment (or rental unit) your first step should be to call, or meet with your landlord in person and notify them of the problem. This should then be followed up IN WRITING. This will prevent the manager from forgetting about the problem and create a paper trail in the event that the matter is not resolved in a timely fashion. If you think a code violation exists you might want to mention that in the letter. If the condition is not fixed within a reasonable time, remind the landlord again IN WRITING and this time indicate that a copy of the letter (a “cc” under your signature with the name of the third party next to it suffices) is being sent to the owner of the property (you can usually get their contact information off of the county auditor’s web site — contact us if you need help). If s/he still does not respond, you will then need to send a letter to the landlord listing all the problems and indicate a copy of the letter is being sent to the Code Enforcement Department. Make sure to send that copy and keep a copy for your records. (An example of how this should look is as follows)
cc: Department of Health and Safety, City of Columbus, OH
cc. Code Enforcement Department, City of Columbus, OH
The landlord cannot evict you for requesting a housing inspection as long as violations exist, you have been paying your rent, and there are no other problems affecting your right to live in the rental unit.
What Happens Next
If you have made requests for repairs, have been persistent and your landlord still refuses or fails to make repairs, there are several tings that can be done.
1. Sometimes, you can make arrangements with your landlord that will allow you to fix the problem out of your own pocket and deduct it from your rent. ask your landlord if this is an agreeable arrangement – if so get a quote for the repair, and write a letter stating that you and the landlord have agreed to reduce the rent by this amount (either a small monthly reduction or all at once) and have the landlord sign and date this. Make sure to get copies of the final invoices for the repairs.
Only do repairs involving heat, electricity, plumbing, water or security. Cosmetic repairs are up to the landlord or owner.
* Note: Few states, if any, allow you to make the repairs and deduct it from your rent without agreement from your landlord – do not make this mistake! You can be evicted for non-payment or sued by your landlord.
2. Some problems may be violations of the Housing Code or Health and Safety Department in your city. Generally, serious things such as heat, water, bugs, mice, rats, etc. are covered by Housing Codes. Check with your local City Hall to get a list of codes.
3. You may also contact local News Networks and their Consumer Protection Divisions such as Working 4 You | NBC 4, 6 On Your Side | ABC 6, Consumer 10 Reports | CBS 10 . (For renters living outside of Columbus click here to visit TvOnYourSide and get a list of local stations in your area.)