Repairs in Rental Housing

Authored By: Legal Services Alabama


This article tells you what repairs your landlord may have to make. It also tells you what you can do if your landlord does not make those repairs.

Who has to make repairs to the house or apartment I rent?

  • If the lease does not say anything else, the landlord usually must make major repairs.
  • The landlord must make repairs to the house or apartment to keep it in livable condition.
  • Major repairs include things such as underground plumbing problems and soundness of the roof.
  • The tenant may have to make some minor repairs, such as changing lightbulbs or filters.
  • Your lease cannot say you have to make all repairs - that is illegal. If you have such requirements in your lease, you should seek legal counsel. You can also call Legal Services Alabama.

If my landlord does not make repairs, can I stop paying rent?

  • No. Despite what many people think, you cannot hold back on rent if your landlord doesn't make repairs.
  • You also do not have the right to use your rent to pay for the repairs.

Then what can I do if my landlord doesn't make repairs?

  • If the lease contains a section making the landlord responsible for repairs, the tenant can demand repairs.
  • If the lease does not make the landlord responsible for repairs, but repairs are needed to keep the house or apartment habitable, the tenant can also demand repairs.
  • Put the demand in writing and keep a copy. Give the landlord 14 days to respond to the request, unless it is an emergency.
  • If, after written request the landlord fails to make necessary repairs, you may terminate the lease and move without penalty.
  • If you want to stay you can sue the landlord to force them to make repairs. You can also move out and sue the landlord for damages.

Reviewed May 2010 offers legal information, not legal advice. This website provides information on your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online HERE.

Last Review and Update: May 06, 2010
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