U.S. landlord refuses to fix leaking ceiling

U.S. landlord refuses to fix leaking ceiling

A leaking ceiling in an apartment is not the situation which you must endure. Landlords are obligated to maintain living quarters in a habitable condition, which usually includes compliance with building codes and regulations. If your landlord did not fix the leaking ceiling after notifying them of the problem, your state's apartment habitability law determines what actions you can take in response, such as withholding rent or terminating the lease. In some cases, local city governments may pass ordinances that give you more options.

U.S. landlord refuses to fix leaking ceiling Habitability laws

Regardless of what is written in your apartment lease, state habitability laws govern your rights and obligations as a landlord in relation to damage to your apartment. Most states have statutes that define livability standards, and some states, such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, have livability standards determined by existing health codes, local ordinances, or civil case law. Arkansas law only requires a landlord to comply with applicable building codes. In general, states with habitability laws require the landlord to keep your apartment in a condition that is structurally sound, in good working order, and free of major defects or damage, such as a leaking ceiling.


State habitability laws not only set minimum standards for the livable condition of your apartment, but also determine the remedies you are entitled to if your landlord does not repair damage to your apartment. Available remedies vary significantly by state; California law provides for a range of remedies. If the cost of the needed repairs is less than one month's rent, you can "repair and deduct" amount of repairs from the rent. You may also have the right to relinquish an apartment without penalty if the damage significantly affects the habitability of the apartment. If damage to your apartment seriously threatens your health or safety, you can withhold rent from your landlord until the apartment is repaired.

U.S. landlord refuses to fix leaking ceiling Local regulations

Some cities provide additional options for residents to when the landlord refuses to repair damage to the apartment. For example, in San Francisco, the Rental Board has the power to adjust a tenant's rent to address a repair or maintenance issue. If the landlord does not fix the damage within more than 30 days of being notified of the problem, the tenant may ask the council to reduce the rent or delay the proposed rent increase.

Building Inspection

In most cases, the local building department can help you deal with a landlord who is not providing proper maintenance or repairing damage to your apartment. For example, the San Francisco Rental Board requires a building inspector to determine that damage to your apartment is a building code violation before adjusting your rent.