US landlord doesn’t want to fix leaking ceiling

US landlord doesn't want to fix leaking ceiling

A leaking ceiling in your apartment is not a situation you should tolerate. Landlords have a responsibility to maintain residential premises in a habitable condition, which usually includes following building codes. If your landlord fails to repair your leaking ceiling after notifying him of the problem, your state's occupancy laws determine what action you can take in response, such as withholding rent or terminating your lease. In some cases, local city authorities may pass ordinances that give you additional options.

US landlord doesn't want to fix leaking ceilingUS landlord doesn't want to fix leaking ceilingphoto: Laws on habitability

Regardless of what your apartment lease says, state occupancy laws govern your rights and responsibilities as a landlord regarding damage to your apartment. Most states have enacted statutes that define livability standards, and in some states, such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, livability standards are 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 maintain 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 livability laws not only set minimum standards for the livability of your apartment, but also define the remedies you are entitled to if your landlord does not repair damage to your apartment. Available remedies vary widely by state; California law provides a variety of remedies. If the cost of needed repairs is less than a month's rent, you can "repair and deduct" the amount of repairs from the rent. You may also have the right to refuse the apartment without penalty if the damage materially affects the apartment's habitability. If the damage to your apartment seriously threatens your health or safety, you may be able to withhold rent from your landlord until the apartment is repaired.

US landlord doesn't want to fix leaking ceilingUS landlord doesn't want to fix leaking ceilingphoto: Local ordinances

Some cities provide additional options for tenants when the landlord refuses to repair damage to the apartment. For example, in San Francisco, the Rent Board has the power to adjust a tenant's rent to address repairs or maintenance issues. If the landlord does not correct the damage more than 30 days after being notified of the problem, the tenant may apply to the council for a rent reduction or deferment of a proposed rent increase.

Building Inspection

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