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Marc, Attorney at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 350
Experience:  Experienced Attorney
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I am a renter and have had continued problems with the front

Customer Question

i am a renter and have had continued problems with the front door. Since the beginning of september the door has become increasingly difficult to open from the inside and out. I reported it again, on Sept 16th and as of today nothing has been done other than to send out a contractor to get an estimate on what it would cost to replace. It is a fire hazard as my 8 yr old son cannot open the door. I am wondering what my rights are as it has been over a month and no resolution has been met.
JA: You just pay a $5 deposit now and the rest only when you get a reply from the Real Estate Lawyer. All of this is 100% satisfaction guaranteed, so you can get a refund if you're not happy for any reason. Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: oklahoma
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: yes, there has been lots of communication back and forth between myself and the leasing company via the "tenant portal"
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Not that i can think of.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Marc replied 11 months ago.

Hello. My name is Marc. I am a licensed attorney and I will be happy to assist you today. You certainly have every right to feel vexed by this situation. Although I do not have a copy of your lease, it undoubtedly requires the landlord to perform and pay for certain defects within the apartment. That includes the front door.

Now, in Oklahoma, tenants are entitled to a safe and livable home. This right applies to any renter - even those who live in shacks or some other hovel. We’re talking about basic, important items such as a roof that keeps out rain and snow, hot water, heat, and sturdy floors and walls that aren’t in danger of imminent collapse. This list includes many things. But pertinent to your case, the landlord is also responsible for fire safety and reasonable protection from criminal intrusion.

If the landlord refuses to provide or repair these aspects of your home, you may:

  • withhold rent

  • pay for repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent

  • sue the landlord, or 

  • move out without notice and without liability for future rent.

In your case, your defective door is creating a fire hazard, as you mentioned. It also, arguably, makes your place more vulnerable to intrusion. In general, your defective door is not only an inconvenience, but it is a safety hazard. The landlord may be compelled under the express terms of the lease to repair it - and soon! If not, or if the lease is not very specific as to what the landlord is responsible for, it doesn't matter because he/she is responsible for repairing your door by law.

It may well be that your repeated requests have fallen between the cracks. That is, your requests seem to have been ignored - not refused. My building also uses a tenant portal for maintenance requests and other matters. And usually, when I put in a request for the super to come repair a clogged sink, for example, I usually have to follow up by going to the lobby and asking the doorman to call the super. Therefore, it seems quite certain that suing or moving out would be inappropriate courses of action.

Alternatively, I would recommend printing copies of your requests and any other related correspondence and physically taking them to the management office. Let them know that you've been patient, but that this matter requires immediate attention. Let them know also that, if they do not make the necessary repairs within 48 hours, you will have it repaired yourself and you will deduct the expense from the next month's rent. After you confront the management office, send another email (through the portal or directly) summarizing the conversation.

If, after 48 hours, there's no response, you are legally entitled to repair the door yourself and deduct the expense from your rent. Be sure to provide a copy of the invoice with your next month's check.

I hope I have provided your with an answer that helps you better understand your issues and options. If so, please be sure to rate my answer, since that is the only way I can receive credit. Or let me know if you have any other questions. Meanwhile, I wish you a speedy resolution!

Kind regards,