How to Report Bad Landlords: A Guide for Tenants and Property Managers

bad landlords

Depending on who you ask, landlords are either contributing to the positive social fabric of a neighborhood or they are social parasites. While it’s not fair to demonize all landlords, many bad landlords have gotten away with crimes for decades without being held accountable. With the help of federal and local authorities, they are held responsible for problems at their properties.

Here are the three best ways to report bad landlords.

1. Try Information or 311

Depending on the severity of your complaint, you may just need to tell someone that your landlord is negligent. Landlords that leave trash around or don’t fix things that they’re supposed to can be reported to local or city authorities.

Often, information lines or 311 calls can ensure that your complaint gets logged and that the local authorities follow up. With the help of 311 or information, you can register a formal complaint and have the city back you up.

When reporting a landlord, authorities will sometimes ask for personal information. Most allow you to complain anonymously. If your landlord is violating a law and you know it, reporting via 311 anonymously can protect you from your landlord’s responses.

2. Seek Out Non-Profits

In most cities and states, there are non-profit tenants’ associations. There might even be one that covers your home that you don’t know about yet.

Go on to a search engine and type “(your city and state) housing association” or “tenants association”. You’ll come up with results that can help you solve the problems you’re dealing with.

Perhaps you don’t want to get the law involved yet. If this is the case, these associations can give you advice on how to report a bad landlord without taking things that far. Often a letter that’s signed by multiple tenants is enough.

If your landlord receives emails, these tenant associations can help you craft the perfect message.

3. Contact HUD

Many people who live in state- or city-controlled housing deal with landlord issues. Sometimes your bad landlord is the city and if this is the case, it can feel like there’s no way out.

Thankfully there is accountability within HUD and other housing authorities. IF you haven’t heard from your landlord or supervisor about a problem that needs to be fixed, contact the housing authority.

If your apartment is controlled by city or state laws or if you’re part of a housing program, you can probably be protected by HUD. A violation from HUD will send the fear of god into your landlord, which might be what it takes when you’re dealing with serious issues.

Bad Landlords Need Accountability

Without accountability, bad landlords get paid to provide unethical living conditions for people who can’t afford to own their home. An unethical landlord must be held accountable so that their tenants can live fairly in healthy and reasonable conditions. Thankfully, there are resources for people being abused by their landlords.

If you want to know more about your landlord, check out our guide for seeking a landlords credit report.

The Renters’ Rights All Tenants Should Know

renters' rights

Even though America is largely a country of homeowners, over 75 million households still live in rented homes. While homeownership offers many freedoms (like you can live with as many pets as the property can accommodate), renting comes with restrictions.

But, when do these renter restrictions cross the line? Did you know that as a renter, you have rights entrenched in law?

This article is all about renters’ rights. A decent understanding of these rights will enable you to make the most of living in a rented property.

The Right to Non-discrimination

The landlord reserves the right to approve or reject a tenant’s application.

You’ve probably come across this statement in your rental or lease application forms. And rightly so, there are legitimate reasons a landlord can deny your application. Common reasons include:

  • Bad credit
  • No verifiable source of income
  • Past evictions
  • Unsatisfactory references
  • Criminal background.

However, it’s illegal for a landlord to reject your application because of your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, age, national origin, and disability (physical or mental). This is why if you’re disapproved, you have a right to know the reason, and the reason must be satisfactory.

The Right to a Habitable Home

Are you currently living in a rented home with exposed electrical wires, leaky plumbing, extensive pest infestation or in any other condition that makes the place inhabitable?

If the home ticks any of these characteristics, your right to a habitable home is possibly being violated.

It’s a legal requirement for landlords to ensure the units they are putting up for rent meet the standards of habitability. In the event that a house develops inhabitable conditions after you move in, you have a right to landlord repairs – at no cost to you.

The Right to Privacy

As a homeowner, no one can just storm into your residence and invade your privacy. Even law enforcement officers looking to search your property must have a search warrant– unless probable cause is established.

As a tenant, though, it’s easy to feel that the landlord can barge in at any time. They own the property, after all.

The good news is your right to privacy is spelled out in the Fourth Amendment, as well as in most state and local housing laws. Yes, your landlord can enter your property, but that’s after giving you notice beforehand. Still, they can only enter to inspect the property for structural issues, or when there is a fire or other emergency.

Security Deposits

Many states give landlords the right to ask for a security deposit from tenants. The amount, though, can vary depending on the local laws, length of the lease, and whether you’re moving in with a pet(s).

When you move out, the landlord returns your deposit, less the amount used to fix damages, repaint and clean the house. However, security deposit disputes are very common.

Sometimes landlords won’t return the deposit, other times they return less than a tenant feels justifiable. And other times a tenant parts with more cash, often in cases where the current deposit cannot adequately cover the needed repairs.

As a tenant, know that you have a right to get your deposit back as soon as possible, usually within 30 days. If there’s a dispute, you can take it to a small claims court.

Understanding Renters’ Rights – An Attorney Will Help

While reading this article is a good place to begin in your quest to know your renters’ rights, it’s barely enough. Like most legal issues, landlord-tenant law can be complex.

When you’re looking to rent, or you feel that your rights have been violated, it’s essential to get a landlord-tenant lawyer. This professional will shed more light on your situation.

While at it, here is what you need to know about a landlords credit report.