Renter Resources  

What To Do If You Roof Is Leaking

As a renter, you have to rely on your landlord to handle a few problems here and there. You may or may not be familiar with whose responsibility it is to handle what in certain situations, but that's where Whose Your Landlord comes in.
Severe weather can wreak havoc on your apartment building's roof, but so can general wear and tear, or a renter's lack of care. If you notice a leak in your unit, you should contact your landlord right away! To handle the situation appropriately, check these boxes before withholding rent from your landlord for a leaking roof:

Does the leak make your apartment unlivable?

Assess the situation - is the leak in your roof serious or just annoying? If it's a minor leak that's causing more of an annoyance than a health disturbance, you may have to fix the problem yourself. If your apartment is flooding, that's a different issue. Notify your landlord right away to see what the next steps are. Most of the time, they'll be just as concerned about their property as you are.  

Are you the cause of the leak?

Big or small, if you or one of your guests caused the leak to start, you will not be able to force your landlord to pay for the repairs, withhold rent from them, break your lease, or sue your them for damages. If an Act of God or neglect from your landlord, then you may be able to take one of the courses of action mentioned above, depending on the state you live in.

Is your record clean?

Are you behind on any rent? Have any outstanding issues you haven't settled with your landlord? Did you violate the terms of your rental agreement? It's important to make sure you're in good standing with your landlord before you request (or demand) that they take care of a leaking roof (or any issue, for that matter). If your leaking roof is causing your apartment to be uninhabitable and your landlord is ultimately violating the agreement that states they are to provide you with a safe living space, you may need to contact a local housing agency or seek legal counsel. In some cases, the local health or fire department can help you out.

I've notified my local housing authority of the leaking roof in my apartment that my landlord won't fix - what next? 

Government inspectors will investigate and notify your landlord of the timeframe they have to fix the problem, which is typically 30-60 days. In extreme cases (if, say, the roof is completely gone) this deadline will be shortened, or an official will shut the building down.
In any situation where you feel like withholding rent is the answer, know that there are other options first. Stay tuned to Whose Your Landlord for all the best advice when it comes to withholding rent from your landlord. Make sure to visit HUD.GOV for more information on any housing concerns.ent!