Landlord Wouldn't Fix Leak For 5 Months. This Letter Got Him To Do It in 5 Days.

Raymond and his wife had a leak in their master bedroom ceiling that they begged their landlord to fix for five months, with no result. With a baby due in a month, they really needed full use of their bedroom. Then Raymond wrote a very good complaint letter specifically citing his state’s landlord-tenant law and proposing a retroactive rent reduction for all the months the leak wasn’t fixed. That got their attention.

Raymond writes: This letter I wrote to my property management company worked like a charm! Thanks to your website I’ve learned it is possible to get things done and not to be afraid to ask. They replied two days later in a letter saying they agree to our terms and they have switched contractors (the normal one kept beating around the bush apparently) and the fix should only take three days.

Thanks,
Raymond

To whom it may concern,

Shortly after we moved in to apartment number 2 at [redacted], we noticed a leak in the master bedroom. As per the rental agreement, we reported the leak, and did our jobs as tenants in minimizing damage to the carpet and reducing the chance of mold by putting a large mixing bowl on a table to catch the leak. This has reduced the use of our master bedroom significantly.

According to the Washington Residential Landlord-Tenant Act RCW 59.18.070:

If at any time during the tenancy the landlord fails to carry out the duties required by RCW 59.18.060 or by the rental agreement. the tenant may, in addition to pursuit of remedies otherwise provided him or her by law, deliver written notice to the person designated in RCW 59.18.060(14), or to the person who collects the rent, which notice shall specify the premises involved, the name of the owner, if known, and the nature of the defective condition.

The landlord shall commence remedial action after receipt of such notice by the tenant as soon as possible but not later than the following time periods, except where circumstances are beyond the landlord’s control:

(1) Not more than twenty-four hours, where the defective condition deprives the tenant of hot or cold water, heat, or electricity, or is imminently hazardous to life:
(2) Not more than seventy-two hours, where the defective condition deprives the tenant of the use of a refrigerator, range and oven, or a major plumbing fixture supplied by the landlord: and
(3) Not more than ten days in all other cases.

In each instance the burden shall be on the landlord to see that remedial work under this section is completed promptly. If completion is delayed due to circumstances beyond the landlord’s control, including the unavailability of financing, the landlord shall remedy the defective condition as soon as possible.

We have been patiently waiting for the repairs to start, and with a baby due March 24 we really need the use of that second bedroom.

I am proposing a retroactive rent reduction of ninety five dollars ($95) for each month the room was out of commission for a total of $475, plus a reduction of ninety five dollars ($95) a month for each month the repairs go undone. I hope we can come to a mutual agreement on how to rectify this situation, including repairs.

Respectfully,
Raymond

Good job, Raymond! Your letter was calm, cogent, professional and it went right after their bottom line. And congratulations on the soon-to-be new addition to your family. May your child’s diapers be the only leak in your apartment from now on.

Chapter 59.18 RCW Residential landlord-tenant act [apps.leg.wa.gov]