|Written by Sandra R. Harris-Gompf|
Introduction: Have you ever found yourself in the position of having to ask your landlord over and over again to make a repair that seems to never get done? If your verbal requests for repairs havenâ€™t been working, your next step is to write a Demand Letter. A Demand Letter will let the landlord know exactly what needs to be repaired. It will also serve as your legal proof in court (if it comes to that) that you made the need for repairs known to the landlord.
Things Youâ€™ll Need:
Computer and printer or
Paper and pen
Step One: Why should you use a Demand Letter?
If you do end up in court, it will let the judge or jury know that you did notify the landlord of a problem. It will show that the landlord decided not to do the repair after being notified. If you suffered damages to personal possessions because of the landlordâ€™s negligence you could also legally collect reimbursement for special damages and/or emotional distress
If the landlord chooses to evict you instead of make the repairs, a dated Demand Letter will be an important document for proving that it was a retaliatory eviction.
Step Two: What does a Demand Letter look like?
A Demand Letter should include your name, address, phone number, the date (very important), and the landlordâ€™s name, address and phone number. The content should state what specifically needs to be fixed and what you will be forced to do, should he not make repairs.
Demand Letter Content Example:
For the last two months, I have asked you to make repairs to the broken water pipe under the house. As you know, grey water and sewage both run through the pipe. The leakage from the break causes some deplorable habitability issues. The house smells like sewer and black mold is growing in the crawlspace. In addition, a new issue has recently cropped up. I believe dirt from the crawlspace is now working into the drainage pipes causing clogs that cannot be cleared with drain cleaner or with a water pressure fix. I need for you to repair the broken pipe under the house and unclog my drains in the kitchen and in the bathroom.
If I do not hear from you by (date goes here), then I will have to call a plumber and deduct the cost from the next rent check. I look forward to your prompt cooperation.
Sign it, make a copy to keep and send the original to your landlord.
Step Three: If you get a response from your landlord, be ready to negotiate an acceptable repair and get it in writing. If the landlord does not write the settlement you both agreed on, you write it. Both parties should sign it, but if your landlord refuses to sign, send him a copy with your signature on it. The signed settlement will keep your landlord from saying that you waived repairs.
If you have access to Legal Aide, talk to an attorney who specializes in landlord tenant law.
Another resource that will walk you step by step through the legal process to get repairs made, is a Landlord/Tenant Rights Handbook for the state in which you reside. Two very good resources for these books are Nolo Press and Self-Counsel Press.
If you have an irresponsible landlord, he may taunt you to move or just hand you an eviction notice rather than do the repairs. Be prepared to fight for your rights as a tenant.