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How to get your landlord to make repairs

No, you can't withhold your rent, but you can put all the requests in writing.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A leaky roof, A/C that doesn't work, a toilet that runs constantly. When you rent, it's not your responsibility to fix the issue, but getting the issue fixed can be a frustrating process.

Your first course of action? Communication.

“If your landlord is not making repairs, you need to up your communication with the landlord. That can be pen and paper, text or email, but the goal is to have your requests in writing,” said Josie Williams, Executive Director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition.

Putting your requests in writing is proof of what you asked for when you asked for it, and the response from your landlord.
If you ever had to take the issue to court, a judge would ask you for this kind of proof.

Of course, you don't want it to come to that, but just putting something in writing helps make communication clear. Both parties understand the issue, the remedy, and the timeline, and the timeline is a big deal.

“Allowing the landlord to make the repair, to get supplies and parts. If you're waiting weeks or months, then it’s unusual and we want to help support that communication,” said Williams.

Don't miss this key point, under North Carolina law, renters are not allowed to withhold rent even if repairs aren't being made. If you don't pay, you are the one considered in breach of contract.

These are FAQ's from the NC Landlord Tenant brochure:

Is There a Limit to How Much Rent I Can Be Charged? No.  Unless you live in housing where your rent is based on your income, there is no limit to how much rent your landlord can charge.  The only way to control the rent is through the lease agreement.   

Can My Landlord Charge Fees if I Can’t Pay the Rent on Time? Yes.  North Carolina law allows the Landlord to charge up to $15 or 5% of the rent, whichever is greater.  A late fee can only be charged one time for each late rental payment.  Late fees may not be deducted for your next rent payment. 

Can My Landlord Charge Me a Deposit for Having Pets? Yes.  Your landlord can collect money for a pet deposit if you are going to have a pet living with you. Your landlord does not have to refund the money collected for a pet deposit unless the lease permits it.

    

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