First Letter

Telling your landlord about a rental issue

Icon of damaged house

If there is an issue that makes your rental home unsafe to live in, it could break the Warranty of Habitability law. You should tell your landlord as soon as possible so that they landlord are aware of the issue. It’s important to tell your landlord about the issue in writing and include details and evidence like photos, if you have them. Make sure to save a copy of the letter and evidence, as it might be useful if you have to go to court and prove that your landlord knew about the issue.

What should this first letter include?

  • The date you are sending the letter
  • Your name
  • Your address and unit number
  • Landlord’s name
  • Landlord’s address
  • Detailed description of the issue
  • Any evidence like photos, if possible
  • Permission for the landlord or landlord's worker to enter the unit to fix the issue
  • Your signature
  • Date of signature

What if it's an emergency issue?

If the issue is an emergency that puts a your life in danger (like a gas leak or a serious hazard), you can request to temporarily move to another unit or a hotel room paid for by your landlord. Send your landlord a letter as soon as possible, telling them about the issue and requesting another unit or hotel room.

Your landlord can choose the unit or hotel room, but it must be comparable to your current unit. Your landlord is responsible for the cost of the other unit or hotel room, but renters are still responsible for paying their normal rent.

Renters can create a letter to their landlord for free, informing them of the issue and requesting another unit or hotel room.

How to Send a Letter

Landlords can require in the lease that renters communicate with them in a specific way. They may ask renters to use a website, online “portal”, email, or text message.

  1. Check the lease. If a lease says renters must communicate in a specific way, you should use that method.
  2. If the landlord does not specify in the lease, you should communicate the way you have in the past.
  3. If you have not communicated with your landlord in the past, you can send your letter
  • In an e-mail
  • With certified mail or USPS first class
  • Hand-deliver the letter to the landlord or property manager’s business office

What's next?

Once your landlord receives this first letter, they must respond within 24 hours with a plan to fix the issue. Generally landlords have 96 hours to start fixing the issue. If it’s an emergency issue, the landlord must respond  and start fixing the issue within 24 hours.

If your landlord is not responding quickly with repairs, renters can send a second letter to take action. You may be able to get the issue fixed without the landlord or move out and end your lease early. Use our free form to send a second letter to your landlord or use our Next Step Guide to help figure out your next step.