Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Is My Landlord Responsible for Repairs?

Woman calling her landlord to repair a drain issue

Yes, your landlord or property management handles most repairs in your rental unit. Two sources help renters determine their landlord's repair responsibilities. The first source is the lease agreement. The second source is local ordinances and state law.

Landlords are typically responsible for major repairs and maintenance issues. Tenants are usually responsible for minor repairs. This article will explore landlord and tenant responsibility for repairs in a rental unit.

Lease Agreement

A lease agreement is binding on all parties to the contract. The lease terms should include a maintenance clause outlining the landlord's responsibilities to make repairs in the rental unit. The lease should also have a tenant's responsibility to upkeep their rental unit.

Landlord Responsibilities

Property owners or landlords are usually required to make the following necessary repairs, as necessary:

  • Maintain running water
  • Air conditioning
  • Electrical systems
  • Smoke detectors
  • Broken locks
  • Plumbing repairs
  • Heating repairs
  • Mold removal

Landlords are also responsible for hiring an exterminator to take care of a pest infestation and bearing the cost of repairs.

Tenant Responsibilities

Tenants bear responsibility for minor repairs and any damage they caused, including the following:

  • Replacing light bulbs
  • Damage caused by a pet
  • Damage caused by guests
  • Stained countertops

State Laws and Local Ordinances

If your rental agreement does not outline responsibility for a particular repair, check your state and local housing codes. Building codes aim to ensure your rental unit is safe to live in. Where applicable, property owners must follow these codes and real estate laws.

Warranty of Habitability

There is an implied warranty of habitability in every rental agreement. So, even if your lease does not explicitly address the landlord's responsibility to make repairs, the law imposes some responsibility. Under the implied warranty of habitability, your landlord must substantially follow local building codes.

Tenants have a right to a habitable home. If the rental home does not meet the basic standards outlined in the housing code, tenants have a few options for remedies.


If tenants discover a maintenance issue a landlord must repair, they should request repairs in writing. Creating a record of their attempts to resolve the problem can help resolve any disputes.

If the landlord fails to repair, the tenant can file a complaint with their local building inspector. They can file a lawsuit in small claims court. Another option is to withhold their monthly rent. Anyone considering withholding a rent payment should understand how to avoid eviction if they do.

The tenant should consult with state and local laws first. In many cities, tenants can place the rent in a separate account pending resolution.

Rent Escrow Accounts

In some states, like Maryland, tenants can deposit their rent into an escrow account at their local District Court after the court approves the account. The tenant must give the landlord notice of the issue and give them a reasonable time frame to repair it. If the landlord refuses, they can file for a rent escrow account. If the court agrees with the tenant, the court will establish a rent escrow account.

Repair and Deduct

In many states, the tenant can hire someone to make the repairs. Then they deduct the costs of repairs from the rent.

For example, if the tenant has a broken heater in the winter, they can hire someone to fix it and deduct the repair cost from their rent. They also must give their landlord adequate notice and time to repair the problem.

Tenants should consult their local and state laws before they repair and deduct.

Get Legal Help

Landlord-tenant law is complex, especially in disputes over repairs. An experienced local landlord-tenant attorney can advise you on your tenant rights. Speak to a local, experienced landlord-tenant attorney today for help with maintenance issues at your rental unit.

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you navigate any landlord-tenant issues.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options