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Can I get my landlord to fix a minor problem?

As a tenant, you may find that you have a problem that you believe your landlord should fix, but the landlord does not believe he or she must fix. In these circumstances, it is helpful to understand the limits of what you can expect a landlord to cover and how you might compel a landlord to fix a minor problem even if he or she does not technically have to.

The first thing you should do in any situation where you are unclear on the responsibilities of your landlord is consult your lease. In many cases, your lease actually spells out in detail the landlord's responsibilities. If your particular issue is addressed in your lease and the terms state that the landlord must cover it, then it will probably also outline remedies you can pursue should the landlord choose to disobey the lease terms.

Compelling a landlord to do something they do not want to do is very difficult, and you may find that it is simply not worth the trouble. Some tenants choose to withhold rent until an issue they complain about is fixed. This is a good alternative in some cases, but doing so may place you in hot water legally if your gripe is not protected in the terms of the lease. You may have better luck convincing the landlord to fix the issue by flattering them or suggesting some other from of trade that benefits them and motivates them to fix the issue, such as reviewing their property favorably for other renters.

Ultimately, if the issue is small and is not covered in your lease, you may have to either deal with it yourself or accept that it is an annoyance rather than an emergency.

Maintaining a healthy landlord-tenant relationship is often a difficult thing to do. If you have concerns about the direction your relationship with your landlord is headed, you can consult with an experienced attorney to understand your legal options if the relationship deteriorates further. Proper legal guidance is invaluable when it comes to protecting your home and your right to live in a safe, well-maintained space.

Source: Findlaw, "A Tenant's Rights to Landlord Repairs," accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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