There are certain things you must legally do to request repairs from your property owner. Most property owners want to know about problems right away while they are easy to fix. While calling is good, legally you also need to inform your property owner in writing. Your notice must include the address and apartment number (if applicable) of your rental, the name of the owner (if known), and a description of the problem. Itís a good idea to deliver the notice personally or to use certified mail and get a return receipt from the post office.
24 hours for no hot or cold water, heat, or electricity, or for a condition that is imminently hazardous to life
72 hours for repair of refrigerator, range, and oven, or a major plumbing fixture supplied by landlord
10 days for all other repairs
After giving notice, you must wait the required time for your property owner to make repairs:
Depending on the type of repair, your property owner has between one and 10 days from the time they receive your written notice to make the necessary repairs. For example, they have three days to fix a toilet! But what happens if youíve given proper notice, three days go by, and your property owner has not fixed the toilet? If you are current with your rent, then you can do any of the following:
You can seek mediation services through the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center. This is usually less costly and quicker than going to court. Click to review their
website: www.whatcomdrc.org or call 676-0122.
You can hire an attorney and go to court to force your property owner to make repairs. These kinds of suits cannot be brought in Small Claims Court.
You can move out. After waiting the required time, the law allows you to give written notice to your property owner and move out immediately. You are entitled to a prorated refund of your rent, as well as the deposits you would normally get back.
You can hire someone to make the repairs. In many cases you can have the work done and then deduct the cost from the rent. (This procedure cannot be used to force a property owner to provide adequate garbage cans.) Before having any repairs made by a licensed or registered tradesperson (if one is required) or any person capable of doing the work, you must submit a good faith estimate to your landlord. To speed up the repair process, you can give the estimate to the property owner along with your original written notice of the problem.
You can also seek free legal advice through the Legal Assistance by Whatcom Advocates (LAW) Program
Your property owner is not responsible for the cost to correct problems you caused, i.e. clogged toilets or garbage disposals plugged with banana peels.
WWU Legal Information Center
Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center
Legal Assistance by Whatcom Advocates (LAW)